I walked in to another Friday afternoon/evening at the very busy grocery store where I work. I was so tired…kind of wishing I could just have a lazy day. I discovered my position for the shift would be “the cage” (as we call it). That’s an odd position with sometimes unusual people frequenting that register. It’s also kind of isolated from the bustle of the rest of the store as it is kind of an “express” check-out.
I wondered why today of all days, I was placed there. I mean, what was I there for? We all do that from time to time…why do this and why do that, the result is going to be the same. Same, same, same. Blah, blah, blah…
My very first customers were two young women, both with young children. One mom had an almost 3-year-old in the buggy. They both were buying baby food and formula. While checking the other mom out (which required a manager) the other mom told me her son was “special needs”, blind. She proceeds to tell me their story – which eerily paralleled mine and my son’s – with all the familiar struggles. I told her a little of the story of my son’s birth and we both teared up because they were so similar.
She told me she knew her son was her “angel” because it took him having him with all the issues he had to meet God. I had to fight back tears as I listened because I’ve said that about Matt a thousand times, even way before I was saved.
She shared with me all the never-things she was told her son would experience and I told her to not listen that anything was possible with God, to keep going forward with Him and believing He was in control. I told her about them saying that if my son lived to be a year old he probably would never walk or talk, that he was now almost 33. The other young woman jumped in and said her child was developmentally delayed and told me of the negative and bleak picture doctors and specialists had painted for her baby’s future.
Boom. There it was.
Had I not been assigned that particular position at that particular time I would have missed meeting these women. I wouldn’t have had the chance to let them “see” down the road what is possible in their children’s future when their present was so bleak and uncertain. That’s why I was there. Take it back a little further – had my life not fallen apart and I hadn’t applied and got hired there, I would have missed that golden moment where God met us…in the grocery store.
It occurred to me, because one of the managers was there – that I could have…maybe SHOULD have…kept my mouth shut, but I didn’t. God’s teaching me that EVERY single encounter is not by chance and with every encounter comes an opportunity to speak of what He’s done in my life. THAT is why I’m there.
That’s why YOU are where you are too. You don’t have to preach, you don’t have to quote scriptures, you just need to speak. Tell it. Tell how God has brought you through. I dare say, every single person I meet when I am behind that register is going through something awful. Some are hanging on by a thread and others are on their way to giving up and giving in. You never know what a positive, God-led word will do for someone. That’s why you’re there!
That’s why on my worst days, no matter how I feel I’m going to choose to believe there something much bigger and grander going on than just working at a grocery store and I look for those precious moments through which I see His hand. Someone needs to know it’s going to be okay. Someone needs to just be seen and heard; someone needs to be smiled at made to feel like they matter and someone going through something you have already been through needs to know someone understands.
It’s not about us at all. It’s about them and showing them who God is and what He has done (Isaiah 43:10, Genesis 50:20). So if you’re feeling like you don’t know why you’re where you are offer up a prayer to God to be used and watch what happens. Be an encourager; be a light. That’s why you’re here!