When our children were young (just yesterday, wasn't it?), they would often bring products to me when we shopped at the grocery store. "Please may I have this, Dad?" When I said no, they would sometimes put the item back on the shelf wherever we were standing, rather than return it to it's proper place. I didn't allow this. "Never make work for somebody else," I would say. "Return it to where it belongs."
A few days ago I picked up a can of coffee at the store, and put it in the basket. On a special display a few aisles over, however, I saw a bigger can at a better price. I decided to buy it instead of the smaller item, and placed the larger can in the basket. Then I placed the smaller can on the display and turned to make my way to the checkout register.
"Never make work for somebody else. Return it to where it belongs." Echoes of my own words from long ago rang not in my ears, but in my heart and mind. A brief thought flashed through my mind. "Well, it is a can of coffee I'm putting here on this display, so what's the big deal?" It was a big deal, however, for all the reasons you can imagine without my mentioning them. So I retrieved the smaller can from the display and returned it to its proper place on the previous aisle.
Left to myself and my own rationalization, I would have hypocritically and lazily left the coffee where it did not belong. And, some employee of the store would have had to unnecessarily rectified my irresponsibility. Thankfully, the Lord doesn't leave us to our own fleshly devices.
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13).
I had no doubt as I returned the coffee to its shelf that the Lord was graciously fulfilling His Word in the experience. I also had a great sense of joy, and a smile on my face. It took a little time and a little effort (very little, really), but it brought back precious memories of days gone by (just yesterday, wasn't it?), and precious realities of the Lord Jesus Christ in this present day.
Obedience to God in large and small matters flows from the river of His abiding presence in us. We find ourselves doing things we know without question we wouldn't be doing if the Holy Spirit were not working in us "to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). Certainly our own person and will participate in the process as we determine to trust and obey. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). However, the Lord Jesus receives all the glory because even as we make our free choices of devotion to God, the realization floods over our soul that Christ is walking in us, even as we are walking by Him (II Corinthians 6:16).
The Christian life is a dynamic, hands-on, "rubber meets the road" experience of the living God revealed primarily in the countless small matters of the day. We miss so much, of course. But sometimes we don't miss the blessed reality of a present and living Lord Jesus revealed in venues of life wherein the mundane dissolves in the glory of His dynamic involvement. This day will offer such opportunity. May the Lord open our eyes, fill our souls with expectation, and fulfill the prayer of Paul along the aisles of our experience...
"And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God."
(II Thessalonians 3:5)