Being Light in the Darkness
I was shopping at Publix the other week just when the pandemic began to noticeably effect our lives here in Central Florida. I was just gathering normal groceries such as lunch meat, cereal, produce, etc. Browsing around the store, it was clear that people were reacting to the news. Bread aisle: empty. Bottled water: a few of the smaller packs left. Paper products: toilet paper and any product that bore a resemblance was missing. Yeah… people were reacting.
Carrying a hand basket, I approached the edge of an aisle, where I was met by the nose of a fellow customer’s cart. We’ve all been there, where you do the awkward dance accompanied by polite words. “Oh sorry. Please go ahead”, weren’t the words that were exchanged. Instead was a short glance from a woman as she cut in front of me, and continued on her path, determined to get what she needed. That was the difference that shocked me, not the emptiness of the shelves. Kindness and patience were gone, and a sense of me-and-my-own remained.
We know that kindness and patience aren’t just the “goodness” of human beings. Rather, they’re the spiritual fruit called out in Galatians 5 by Paul.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
We’re in a time when people are tempted, and instructed, to care for themselves and their families above all else. I’m not saying don’t prepare and care for your families, but in our effort to do so let’s not neglect to bear fruit as believers. These are the times when the opportunity to point people to Jesus is almost at every turn. People are desperate for hope, and are turning to anything they can get their hands on that they believe will offer it.
Jesus knew this pandemic would happen, and hasn’t forgotten about any of us in our own needs. He knows you lost your job this week, and that there isn’t much left in the account. He knows about our pre-existing health condition that makes us susceptible to this virus, and the fear that pings our hearts and minds every so often. He knows your unique situation. He knows our frame, and has given us the Helper in times like this, that we might live and walk by the Spirit.
I could’ve confronted the lady in the grocery store with a passive-aggressive phrase, or muttered something under my breath. By God’s grace, I didn’t.
The next day I had to go to Wells Fargo, and I sat down with a banker. After my business was done, we made some small talk about the pandemic, but nothing special. I thanked her for her help, and before leaving I was reminded of the atmosphere I experienced in the grocery store the previous day. I decided to ask if there was anything I could pray for her about. Tears immediately started welling up in her eyes. She nodded, and humbly listed off a couple of needs, and we prayed together, being met by the Father. I’m not sure what her background was, but in that moment the Lord met her in a unique way, different from the ways of the present world.
This post isn’t meant to highlight my faithfulness, but rather the Lord’s in the midst of everything that’s going on right now. He loves us, and He loves those that we interact with. Wherever we find ourselves, remember that the Spirit is within us, and He’s ready and willing to meet people where they’re at.
As all of you, I eagerly await the day when we can corporately gather again. But until that day, let’s be the aroma of Christ, whether at work in a hospital, or shopping in a Publix.