My husband and I set out to our favorite grocery store a few days ago for a bit longer list of things to find after being out of town for a week. There were more things to replenish as well as items for the food I expect to prepare for the week. Somehow it has been a bit more of an adventure over the last several years since the pandemic began. Items we would never have expected to have difficulty finding have been scarce or non-existent so having both of us on the hunt has been a help. Maybe you have had similar quests.
List in hand along with a hunt for sales to guide the meal planning, we entered the store to find a remodeling going on in most every area of the store. Now we had an added twist to the usual shopping. The hard part was having the signs to guide you in each aisle were still for the old layout AND not all the revamping was complete, so some things were where we expected to find them, and others were not. We each took a cart on the hunt for what we needed while looking for sale items.
The process was not producing a lot of results, but then we discovered that more than the usual number of employees were scattered around the aisles trying to help all of us locate what we were looking for. What added to the fun was they weren’t always sure either since everything is in a state of flux and will not be completed until sometime this fall. In one instance after a futile attempt to find an item by an assistant manager, I found the person in charge of the department where the item was supposed to be, and she discovered none of that item was in the cooler. She asked me to wait at that exact spot so she could go back into the supply area to see if she could locate any. In a bit of time, she returned with the item held high in one hand and offered to help any time I saw her in that department.
After a much longer time than usual, we were headed out the door home with bags of food in tow. But it was all an opportunity for some great reminders. We have been blessed for a very long time by being able to stop by a store and find what we were looking for on a regular basis and at a price that was reasonable as well. How easy it can be to take something for granted when it is always there. Secondly, most of us are not very good at waiting and with our world turned upside down in more than one or two ways, we have been reminded that even if we are not rigid about a routine, we like a rhythm and flow to our lives so we can better navigate the unexpected.
But as I was having my time of devotions, I sensed the Lord wanted me to see something more than even those things. Life will often throw us curve balls. Some will not be major challenges, but others will leave us reeling and we will become disoriented trying to find our footing and the path through the upside-down environment. Sometimes the challenge can be external like a job loss or accident or a major move, but even in those the internal landscape can be thrown off course.
That’s when everything else before the crazy, anxiety-producing upheaval becomes critical. If we have been building a solid foundation of beliefs and values on those more ordinary days and grown our faith in God, we can find a foothold to start to handle what we are faced with a bit more easily. It’s what we read about where survivors of so many things are concerned. The skills are learned before they are needed and if they are practiced, they can make all the difference when disaster strikes, and our world starts to crumble, and we can’t seem to see the way ahead.
Members of military services know that well. They prepare for as many possibilities as possible to be equipped for what may lay ahead.
“The primal fear that sweeps over men and women in survival situations is the fear of not having enough. This reaches to the core of human need. It might be food, water, clothing – whatever ‘enough’ means to each person. This panic has overcome many otherwise steady souls.”John Eldredge
More than a few of us have seen the evidence of that during the pandemic and we see it as well as the world becomes darker and more dangerous. Crises always expose who we are.
As I reflected on the grocery store upheaval, I was reminded that whatever lays ahead is something I cannot see or predict and yet my preparation for that can be happening every day by how I care for my soul and how I develop my relationship with God. If I make time with Him a priority, I can come to know Him more intimately and develop a trust that better weathers upheaval in my life or the world around me. Learning to listen when I am not in the midst of the battle helps me to know his voice so well that I can recognize his whisper when hearing Him is most needed.
As a child in the small country church where I grew up, one of the hymns I recall was one with lyrics written by Daniel Whittle in 1883 and the refrain points to the key for us:
But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”Daniel Whittle