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.
I grabbed those two as well and put them away. Then I noticed four more errant 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 paused briefly but retrieved the first two carts and put them away. Then as I looked at the remaining two carts further away, I stopped. The other voice I have also learned to recognize, the not so still and not so small 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”. With that I walked to my truck and drove home.
It didn’t take long after driving away to realize that 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 is in the low forties and it is windy with a steady sideways drizzling rain. I returned my cart to the stall and put away the two carts that were abandoned conveniently next to the return stall.
As I turned to walk to my vehicle, I noticed an unusually large number of abandoned shopping carts. They were scattered throughout the sprawling Costco parking lot like a herd of grazing cattle. I suppose the weather had a lot to do with it, certainly easier to just abandon them and go home.
Out of the blue I clearly heard 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 kicked in and the reasons to leave started flowing through my mind. Remembering my less than obedient response of “I’m done here” a few weeks back, I began gathering carts.
For the next 15 minutes or so I walked the parking lot retrieving dozens of carts and returning them neatly to the return stall. I even pulled the tangled mess out of each stall and straightened them as well, including the not so easy to manuever 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”! My immediate reward was very damp clothing, being cold, a few throbbing pinched fingers and two stinging hands from handling the 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 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. Or, perhaps they went home and made fun of me. Entirely possible.
Regardless of God’s “why”, that simple act of obedience yielded several positive results….
For me personally, a completed assignment. After all, if God can’t trust me with His small jobs how can He ever trust me 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, or even tangible evidence that God is looking out for him?
For the calling that was placed on me, which is to encourage others towards Christ through writing, another story to share relaying how God works, and is at work, in my life.
God’s work in our lives never ceases but, in my experience, there is no predicting when a divine request or encounter will occur. Additionally, 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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