I had to run to Walmart for some home goods this morning. This is a familiar place. Over 25 years ago this store opened up. I was looking for a job that paid more than what I was making in the fast food joint. The ad showing off the brand new Walmart store coming to town stood out like a celebrity in the newspaper.
I was just graduated from High School, without a real plan about what to do with my life. My hearing took a big drop that year as well. I jumped on the opportunity to apply. Soon after they called me and I began working at this very store, the one I walked into this morning.
I worked there for several years. I was pregnant with my oldest son while working there, and I worked there for a year after having him. Eventually, I worked towards being a CNA for awhile, got married, had another child, and stayed home.
I was in church this week. While I was sitting with the juice and wafer in my hand, singing as the others were served, my heart was stirred with gratitude. Tears began to flow down my cheeks like a gentle rain. All I could do was just thank God for what He had done for me through Jesus.
Sometimes I think we forget.
We forget those places we used to be. We forget what it was like to have that job that was not the highest-paid in money but was very hard work. We forget what it is like to be the lost sheep because we are so used to being found, and comfortable in the sheep pen where it is safe.
It was busy at Walmart today. We live in a tourist place, where people are here for the beaches, and it gets crowded. I watch people, and with my cochlear implants, I am able to hear conversations now.
People are cranky and impatient because they have to wait. They take stuff off the shelves and when they decide not to keep it, they throw it wherever they want to put it instead of putting it back. Everyone is in a hurry to get where they want to go or they are just plain lazy, so they don’t put their cart back in the place it goes, it just gets left wherever. Sometimes it is put in a place where it rolls away and someone’s car gets scratched.
I remember being that cashier and dealing with people who have been waiting. I have been treated like garbage because I didn’t hear someone right when I was checking them out. I remember being the one who had to take hours going around, picking up misplaced items, and putting them back where they belong. I remember my friends who had to go and get the carriages. There were nights I even went out to help round them up because they had been tossed everywhere and they couldn’t keep up.
So when I am in line, I smile. I take time to talk to the people in the line and put them in a good mood. I take time to ask the cashier and the bagger how they are doing. I have had some really nice conversations with people and it is a great way to love them with God’s love.
I remember being the person seeking, trying to understand who God is. I remember being confused about it all. I remember being the lost one and the prodigal. I remember the people who gossiped about me and had all the answers about how I should be living my life. I remember those who talked about it me as though I wasn’t in the room, thinking I couldn’t understand. I remember the people who thought my life wouldn’t amount to anything because of my mistakes.
I remember God opening His arms to me, and inviting me home. I remember those who helped me get walking in the right direction. I remember the joy of breaking through each stronghold and seeing walls come down.
When I see someone struggling or in that pit, I remember what that felt like. I remember the pain and hopelessness. I want to give them love and hope. When I see that prodigal, I pray as deep as I can pray, I love as intensely as I remember God
We can become hard, and it can be easy to put someone down or shame them.
When we remember, we can say to someone, “I know what it is like to be there, and I want to show you the way out.”
When we forget where God found us, we can’t love them the way God loves us.
I want to challenge you to take some time and remember. Not all the gory details. God allows us to forget what we need to forget. We shouldn’t dwell on it all, but we need to remember what it felt like to be in that place.
How did God meet you there?
How did He carry you through?
How has He brought you to where you are now?
Let’s start today, together!