It was the first of December and I was wrapping up an after-work trip to Costco. I placed my empty shopping cart in the cart return and turned to walk back to my vehicle when I noticed a couple of other carts abandoned very near the return stall.
With no hesitation, I grabbed those two carts as well and put them away. Then I noticed four more carts that were not so close to the return, and that’s when I heard it.
That still small voice I have learned to recognize saying, “get those four as well”.
I wanted to go home. I paused briefly, then retrieved the first two carts and put them away, but as I looked at the remaining two carts in the distance, I stopped.
The other voice I have also learned to recognize, the not so still, not so small, far louder voice, chimed in….
“You didn’t leave them there. Your son is waiting in the truck. You had a long day at work. It is starting to rain”. My response was clear as a bell, “I’m done here”. I walked to my truck, and drove home.
It didn’t take long after driving away for it to hit me…. I had failed to finish what I was asked to do.
Fast forward a few weeks to the same Costco parking lot….
It’s dark, close to closing time, temperature in the low forties, windy, and a there is a steady sideways drizzling rain. Pure nasty.
I returned my cart to the stall, put away the two carts that were abandoned conveniently next to the return stall, and turned to walk to my vehicle when I noticed an unusually large number of abandoned shopping carts in the nearly empty parking lot. They were everywhere.
The abandoned carts scattered throughout the sprawling parking lot looked like a small herd of grazing cattle. I suppose the weather had a lot to do with it, certainly easier to just abandon them and head home, which is just what I wanted to do. Then I heard it….
That still small voice again. This time it said, “Get them all”.
All?! My mind did a quick assessment of the number of carts and the current weather conditions, then that not so still or quiet voice quickly spoke up.
As the legitimate reasons to leave started flowing through my mind, I remembered my less than obedient response of “I’m done here” a few weeks back…. and I began gathering carts.
For the next 15 minutes or so I walked the parking lot returning cart after cart to the return stall. I even pulled the tangled mess out of each stall and straightened the stalls as well, including the not so easy to maneuver flat beds, that clearly have a mind of their own.
Assignment completed and back in my truck I did not hear a booming voice say, “Well done Shane”! Nothing of the sort.
My only reward at the moment seemed to be very damp clothing, being cold, a few throbbing pinched fingers, and stinging hands from gripping cold wet carts in forty-degree weather.
Thing is though, I didn’t complete the task for a reward. I completed it to be obedient.
At the end of the day I have no idea why God asked me to put those carts away. I only know that He asked me. That part I am sure of.
Perhaps, the employee that was tasked with gathering the carts at closing had endured a bad day, or was having a tough week, and this lightened his load.
Perhaps, the handful of people sitting in their cars in the parking lot watching the dude that was not an employee clean up someone else’s mess gave them permission to one day clean up a mess they had no hand in making themselves. Or, perhaps they went home and made fun of me. Entirely possible.
Regardless of God’s “why”, that simple act of obedience did yield several positive results….
For me personally, a completed assignment. After all, if God can’t trust us with His small jobs how can He ever trust us with His big ones?
For the employee tasked with clearing a very cluttered parking lot, in a cold rain at closing time. A lighter work load, perhaps an answered prayer, an un-explainable story that points to God is looking out for him, or just plain old “Favor”?
For the calling that was placed on me, which is to encourage others towards Christ through writing, another story! Another story to write and share relaying how God works, and continues to work, in my life.
I have learned that there is no predicting when a divine request or encounter will occur in life, and obedient service isn’t always glamorous by worldly terms.
Sometimes it is wet, cold, slightly painful, even anonymous to the beneficiary…. and I’m cool with that.
Get in the boat. Do your part.
From Nose to Toes.
Shane / #16
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