Tonight was supposed to be a relaxing night with steaks on the grill and a glass of wine, but we changed our plans and decided to save the steaks for tomorrow night. Instead, we just decided to run to town and get something quick to eat, and pick up a couple things from the store.

Our first stop was at the donut shop chain where our daughter works. After we chatted with her and her co-worker for a little while, we sat and ate our supper, and for some reason I started noticing people. One lady sat in a corner seat. A couple stood in line and ordered, speaking to one another in a language I didn’t recognize. They left, and then the lady from the corner seat left and met a guy in the parking lot. Then they left. More people came and went as we ate.

After eating, we had to run for a few groceries. We made the dreaded trek up the hill to the major chain retailer that we both dislike visiting. Tonight, though, I needed the visit.

The enemy tells me repeatedly that I am a loser. That I am not worth others’ time, and they’re not worth mine. I get blurred vision, with the ability to only focus on the negatives in my life. It happens often, and I hate that I can’t stop it from happening. Picture a wall…8 feet tall, 12 feet wide. I could fill it with goodness…family, friends, memories…but there is that 8 inch by 12 inch section where the bad stuff is, and it is often all I see.

When I encounter these times where I believe the lies, I withdraw. I avoid people, walk around with my head down and a scowl on my face, sequester myself to my office, get angry, and sulk in my misery. Slowly but surely, though, God lifts me back out of the quicksand and shows me once again why I’m here.

People, community, friends, neighbors…all of these are why I’m here. I was not created to sit in a room, stew over the little things that are wrong, and separate myself from interaction with anyone. Tonight was just a little proof, with whispers from the Holy Spirit to help me see what is true…at the retail store. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not a place I find pleasant. It’s very large, often crowded, and frequently understaffed at the checkouts. But as we walked through, I got a message over and over from the Holy Spirit:

  • Jesus died for him. Jesus died for her. It wasn’t just for you, it was for them too. It was for all of you.
  • Jesus died for the young lady with hair a color that was not on God’s original color palette.
  • Jesus died for the guy with lots of piercings and tattoos who looks like he hasn’t slept well.
  • Jesus died for the person whose body odor puts off a distinct indicator that they drink way too much.
  • Jesus died for the lady who just got off work and still looks like she stepped right out of a catalog page.
  • Jesus died for the couple whose faces make clear that they don’t know how they’re going to pay for all the stuff in their cart.

Jesus died for sinners. Every last one of us. The church gossip. The alcoholic. The drug addict. The liar. The gambler. Sin is what separates us from God, and Jesus is what brings us back.

As I left that retail establishment, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend on Monday. I know that God has called me to serve others. When I first started college for my degree in religion, I reacted angrily at anyone who said that I was “following my dream”. It wasn’t my dream. I did not want this in my life. It’s costly, time consuming, and will expose me to others.

It’s also one of the best things that ever happened to me. I can’t regret that I didn’t listen to God when I was a teenager. I had to see what He could do with me, a sinner, to understand why He chose me.

God bless. Listen, pray, repeat…