Thursday, November 7, 2013

Running to Beat the Rain

The skies were already rolling deep folds of darkness nearer as I hurried four little legs beside me into Wal-mart.  My father had called earlier that morning to warn of the early afternoon storms to come, but here we were anyway, completing a weekly chore that should have been finished hours ago.

Into the limousine buggy went my youngest son with the sinus infection and his ever-mothering twin sister, both of whom knew to hold on tight as I rounded the first turn and flew down the straightaway to the back of the store.  Today wasn't one of those times when mommy could be persuaded to take a leisurely tour down Lego land Lane or Beautiful Princess Boulevard.  No, today was an "if-it's-not-on-the-list-then-don't-look-at-it" kind of shopping trip.

Marked-up competitors' sale ads in hand, this mother was on a mission to get in, get out, and get home, all before the rains hit.

Into the buggy dropped the cans of cat food, soap, and two week's supply of bite-sized apples.  Then came fifteen cans of Sunday afternoon snack soup for husband's winter stockpile, a half dozen cans of chili, and a cart-load of other items to price match.  Stocking up on the sale items was the purpose of the trip; the cashier was going to roll her eyes when she saw me, I was sure. 

By the time we entered the home stretch back down front, I glanced at my watch and sighed slightly in relief.  Not quite 11:30.  That's when I realized there were only two long lanes open other than the 20 or less lanes, which I was definitely not.  But these two lines weren't just "long."  They were Thanksgiving-Day crazy long, with my limo sticking so far back into the wide front aisle that everyone had to squeeze just to get between me and the rows of merchandise immediately at my back.

It quickly became evident that it was going to take as long to check out as it had to do all my shopping.

I know these are the times when we as Christians are supposed to have joy in our circumstances, but in all honesty, I. Did. Not.  Instead, my mind played reels of crying, soaked children and plastic bags bursting as their contents scattered and rolled across the parking lot, only stopping in the deepest of puddles.

Arms crossed, I let out an audible huff and glared directly overhead into the black void of the video camera globes as if the people working in security would somehow get my message to management that one of the dozens of persons stuffing the store full for Christmas needed to come help out with the currently-paying customers. 

Twenty minutes of idling in the slower of two lanes, and another lane did finally open up.  I maneuvered my nitro-powered limo into place, praised the cashier for her help, wished her a blessed day, and turned to go.

"Mommy?  I need to go to the bathroom?"

Now!?!?  It had taken forty-five minutes just to check out. I could almost hear the threatening winds warning of the coming rain.  Couldn't she wait just a little bit longer until we got home?   It was only a ten minute drive?

No.  Of course not. Dumb mommy.

Again, I waited.  Do you know how long it takes a five-year-old to wash her hands?  Sing the Alphabet song as you scrub your palms (not your fingers, palms only) with soap.  Forget what letter you're on.  Then, start over again.  Now forget your place a second time.  Yes.  That long

By some miracle, it wasn't yet raining as I pushed my heavy load down the slight hill to the van.  I whispered a thanks to God and asked for us to make it both home and inside with all my bags before the bad storms hit.  As if in response, a couple drops spattered on my face, reminding me that I really did need to hurry.

My buggy was almost empty when a truck pulled in next to me.

"Is that one of those buggies that kids can sit in?"

The question caught me off guard.  Wasn't it obvious? Why else would anyone drive this behemoth?

It was then that I looked past the dad to the kid hobbling down from the back seat of the truck.  I stopped still in my rush as I recognized the precious freckled face and bright red hair of a child from my oldest son's kindergarten class last year.

"Hey, Christopher.  You not feeling well today?  Remember Wyatt from kindergarten?  I'm his mom."

The panicked "how-does-she-know-my-name" look vanished, and he nodded, limping forward a few steps.  His father stopped and told me how the little boy had simply awakened one morning unable to walk, something with his hip that didn't show up on x-rays.

I pushed my buggy towards him and thought how this could be my own son.  Same age.  Same grade.  Same long, lanky frame.  Same easy, goofy smile.    

I joked with him about jumping out of trees and was rewarded with a shy smile, then added, "I hope you feel better, Christopher.  I will be praying for you."

And that was it. As he turned to leave, I heard him tell his dad, "That's Wyatt's mom."

Those words brought me to tears then and do again now as I remember how they triggered a realization.  Suddenly, I knew why I was late going to the store.I knew why I had to wait in line forty-five minutes just to check out.  I knew why Amelia had taken forever to wash her hands. 

It was never about me.  It was all about this little boy and his father.

All those delays in my day were so that I could bring that particular buggy to that particular place in the parking lot at that particular time for this seemingly clueless dad to lovingly care for his son.  All those delays in my day were so that I could be given an opportunity to plant a seed for God in that young boy's mind with the knowledge that some near-stranger was praying for him. 

Right there inside my van with the rain drops plopping more steadily around me each minute,  I dropped my head onto the steering wheel and prayed out loud for Christopher. 

That was a week ago, and I'm not sure if that little boy has been miraculously healed or if he continues to suffer.  But in this week when my own household has suffered from three separate viruses that have left me weary, somehow I can take comfort in not knowing why.

It's not always about us, about you and me.  God rarely reveals Himself like he did in that Wal-Mart parking lot.  Yet, I wonder just how often those things that cause us frustration, those delays that make us impatient, those interruptions we'd rather avoid--how often are they not really about us? But about someone else? 

And how often would it make a difference if we perceived those inconveniences, those interruptions, or those frustrations as for someone else versus against us?

Image: Awesome rain photo by Audrey Merwin.


  1. Jennifer, enjoyed this so much. It brought back so many times, when so frustrated, then finally realizing that it was His reason for such to happen. Thank you for sharing with us!!