As I was standing in the narrow grocery store aisle, trying to locate a coupon on my phone, she turned the corner to the aisle, smiled, and took another route. Her two well-behaved little girls were in the cart, neither of them older than 2 I’d venture, and despite just a quick glance at her, I could tell that she was a bit frazzled. I guess for a mom still in those exhausting years with little ones, it’s pretty easy for me to spot that look.
I didn’t see her again until I took my few items to the express check-out lane, where she was checking out her items in front of me. As she turned to leave, she noticed that her little girl had been holding onto the garlic and the garlic hadn’t been checked out yet. I heard her quietly tell her little girl that they would have to wait to check out the garlic. By this point the cashier was checking out my groceries. Immediately I said, “Here, let me check it out with my stuff. Don’t worry about it.”
I could see the silent sigh of relief as she thanked me. I smiled and said, “My two are with my mother-in-law right now. I understand.”
I had a friend recently email that she wished she could do more for God. A friend of hers was headed to the foreign mission field and it was hard for her not to compare and think what little she felt she was doing herself.
It’s easy to get into the routines of life and sometimes sit back and wonder, “What am I doing? Anything?” I think it’s good to evaluate whether we’ve gotten too caught up in our mundane tasks and are living for ourselves. That’s an easy rut to slip into.
But I also think we shortchange ourselves, our gifts, and the work of God when we think our effectiveness is measured by how “big” a task is or how productive our efforts end up being.
Sometimes obedience can look like packing up and going to the foreign mission field. Sometimes it can look like donating to local charity. And sometimes it can look like paying for a head of garlic for a frazzled mom.
We forget that it’s God’s mission to reach those in need of his love and salvation, and we’re simply participants in that mission. We forget that a knowing look, a kind word, a smile, a “how are you REALLY doing?”, or a purchase of garlic is God’s way of telling that person, “I see you when no one else seems to. You matter.”
I may never see that young mom again, but God sees her every day. My hope is simply that she went home praising God and understanding that she is loved.