I took all three of my boys grocery shopping today.
If you are a Mom, you probably flinched at that, right? Michael and I try with everything in our scheduling power to make sure that one of us can do the weekly shopping sans little ones, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.
This week -the last couple of weeks- have been crazy. Michael is going through a month long coding bootcamp (two nights a week, on top of a full time job, plus Saturdays) and I am coming to the end of my classes (hello, finals and term papers!) while simultaneously getting ready to jump into new ones (with no break in between this time.) Plus the homeschool thing is still happening — and only by the grace of God and help from family, otherwise I’d had given up a long time ago! Life is just nuts right now.
But back to the grocery shopping. We got through the trip fairly peacefully and even made a stop at our favorite Amish market for a few turkey-swiss-on-sourdoughs to bring home for lunch. I ushered the boys inside and gave them their sandwiches and chips and drinks (and something spilled of course, but we got it mopped up) and then went back outside to start hauling in six heavy bags and a few random things that didn’t fit.
As I was carrying a couple of the bags inside I had a thought, maybe even a prompt, from the Holy Spirit that I wanted to share with you.
In that moment, of shlepping groceries inside while my children ate lunch, I was tempted to be stressed. To feel overwhelmed. To let that quickly spill over inside me like angry (hangry?) hot wax and coat everything.
But instead, I remembered back to a time, less than ten years ago, that all I wanted (and prayed and begged God) was to have exactly what I have right now, in this very moment. To have a home in the country, with a man that I loved (and who loved me well), and to be a mother. And as if that weren’t enough, I was also able to study and read and write about things that interested me! Now that’s just icing on the proverbial cake.
So in that moment of hauling food and toilet paper and whatever else back and forth, I let gratitude fill me instead. It was like the posture of my heart turned upward and let the light shine in a bit more.
I thought about Paul’s pastoral writing to the early church in Eph. 2:11-13 –
“So then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh…At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.”
And then my thoughts turned to the Apostle John’s apocalyptic writing to the Church of Ephesus in Rev. 2:2-5 –
“I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name and have not grown weary. But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”
Both John and Paul are urging the believers, from bookends of the Church’s timeline, to remember what it was like to be freshly united with Christ, to be so full of love and gratitude and pure thankfulness that it just fills you right up and spills out on to others. To remember your desperate need for a Savior, and the absolute miracle of being made alive in Him, and then to return thanks in a sincerely joyful worship. As I’ve said before, it is good to remember.
I know for many of you it has been a few years, maybe even decades, since you first encountered the reality of God breaking in to your life. But let’s consider that even in the small moments, the everyday-hauling-groceries-work of our life, we have an opportunity to remember. To allow that memory to fill us afresh with a deep appreciation for God’s love toward us, especially when we were at our worst.
Remembering humbles us! It knocks us off any high horse of believing that we deserve this or we’ve earned that or whatever trash lies might be trying to work their way into our thinking. Remembering refocuses our perspective on the One who is worthy of praise, of recognition, of glory. God was so good to us back then! God is still good to us, now.
I’m asking the Lord for a renewed love for Him, for His Church (that would be y’all!), and for this world, full of precious and needy people. This kind of love is like a wild vine that will take over absolutely everything, but it starts with the seed of gratitude.