Rubbing Shoulders with a Gritty World

Jesus commands us to be salt and light in this world, a task very hard to do.  This is because of the almost seven billion other people who live on this planet, the ones we bump into everyday.

Even though we believers have the incredible indwelling of the Holy Spirit available to empower us to be a “Christ-like one” in front of them, we usually allow the world to dictate how we roll—and that’s usually down in the grime with them. Those folks are down in the dirt because they can’t help it; we, however, can.

I use myself as a prime example.  Last Saturday I went to do my first errand, the grocery store.  I picked up a few items, headed for the, you guessed it, the express line.  There were fewer people in my line and, hey, each only had a few things—I’d get in and out quicker, right?  Wrong.  One by one, the people in the express line in front of me each had a problem.  One dear lady couldn’t get her credit card to swipe.  Another took her blessed time in handwriting a check for her groceries.   Another decided he really didn’t want one or two items after all, and could the nice cashier take it off his bill?  I breathed deeply, rolled my eyes, and tried to take it in stride.

Then I drove down the 15-501 bypass to my next destination, merging into the fast lane.  I’m staying just ten miles above the speed limit, passing up some major turtles in the slow lane.  I was zipping along, doing great, until a big black pick-up truck with some major attitude decides I’m not going fast enough in the fast lane for him.  I can tell this by the way he hangs on my bumper.  So I look for a safe opportunity to get out of his way, but I’ve still got a bank of cars on my right.  I finally see my break coming, plan my move.  I flip my turn signal on to get over, look in my rearview, and notice he’s gone.

It’s then that I hear him.  Now he’s in the right lane, barreling down, racing to get ahead of me.  Just about the time we reach another turtle in the right lane, the humongous truck whips over in the fast lane just ahead of me, missing me by inches, giving me a discourteous salute as he leaves me in his dust.  I would like to say I handled that situation correctly.  But I didn’t. My patience was pretty thin by now. I must admit I said a few unkind things about the thoughtless driver who almost bought the farm and took me along with him.

Next I dashed into Target. I did a quick grab-by of an armful of things and what I thought were a couple of tasteful graduation cards and headed to the checkout.  Again, I chose what I thought was the shortest line. The two college-age young ladies in front of me loaded their various picnic items onto the conveyor belt, leaving their shopping cart to clog the very back of the aisle where I was, juggling my bulky items. They never moved the cart to the opposite end where they were both bagging groceries, each carrying on separate conversations with their cell phones glued to their ears.  Okay, they’re distracted, I think.

The cashier rings up the total.  At that exact moment, one girl turns to the other in wide-eyed innocence, saying, “Oh, you know, I forgot the beer.”  She squeezes past the cart that’s still blocking the way, squeezes past me with my arms full, and saunters out toward the grocery section of the store.

The cashier asks the second girl for the money and she calmly nods in the general direction of the first.  She tells the cashier her friend’s going to pay. Besides, she’ll be right back, it shouldn’t take too long.  She stands on tiptoe, occasionally looking for her forgetful friend, still chattering away incessantly on her phone. The cashier eyes those bags upon bags of groceries, and decides right then and there that she’s not going to cancel the order and have all that work to do for the second time.

So there we stand, the four of us (there is now another woman behind me).  We wait. The cashier and young woman never meet my eyes, never bother to acknowledge that there’s going to be a delay, sorry about that.

That’s it—I snap.  I suddenly shove the cart way forward with my hip; I can’t push it with my hands because I might drop something I’m holding and break it.  My face is red-hot, I feel my blood pressure rise, and everyone around can now tell that I am not amused.  I release my items to the belt with a thump.  The first girl finally takes the hint, silently pulls the cart the rest of the way to the end, finally starts loading her groceries.  I keep fuming and glancing at my watch, because I know I have better things to do with my Saturday instead of standing in line at Target.

The second girl flits up nonchalantly, pushing past me, past her friend, rings up her twelve-pack, pays for the whole kit and caboodle, and finally leaves.  I was still entertaining unpleasant thoughts about the inconsiderate duo as I crossed over into the parking lot.

Within the confines of my car on the way home (and in the slow lane, I might add) the Lord nudged me.  I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, graciously forgiven, washed clean by the blood of the Lamb, privileged to live within the abundance of His blessings—but sadly, I couldn’t endure one afternoon of rubbing shoulders with the world before I became just like them.  I had to confess my sin right then and there.

In each situation, I failed.  I didn’t see those people through Holy Spirit eyes.  I just saw my “rights” being violated.  That’s the problem with being in the world—we often get dirty.  Our thoughts, our actions slowly degenerate into something quite different than we intended.  It’s usually about that point we raise a defiant fist and declare “We ain’t gonna take it no more!”

We cannot be salt and light by ourselves, admit it.  That’s why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us, to empower us.  But we have to be willing to listen to His still, small voice, to follow His lead, and to be obedient.

Let’s be Christ followers and not dirt wallowers.  It’s our choice.

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn/Ps. 19:1

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  1. Ann Dobies says:

    I hear where you are coming from. Sounds like me when I went to Wal-Mart one day, was in a hurry, and the cashier and the woman ahead of me were trying to catch up on 10 years. I tried but I was not successful not showing my irritation. When she asked me “How are you?” my response was “in a hurry.” I thought about it after I left the store, and I was sorry that I had been so blunt, but my human; side took over. Now I try to go when I am in no particular hurry. :) They weren’t being nasty, but they were rude because not only was I in line, there were several behind me, one lady had two unhappy children with her. Some days, so goes the days of our lives, and while we can’t undo our wrongs, we can ask forgiveness, and attempt to remember who we are trying to emulate…certainly not ourselves, but Christ.

    • I’m so glad our Heavenly Father is “the God of many chances”! And that He is abundant in lovingkindness, slow to anger. Otherwise, I’d have been toast a long time ago. . . .

      Lookin’ up,

  2. Debbie Cline says:

    Your story made me laugh, sigh and remember the many times that I too had my daily devotion, prayed, and then prayed for safe travel to/from AND THEN the folks of the world got in MY way. Also, as I was driving down the road singing along with Point of Grace or Charles Billingsley I totally was engulfed by the worldly and developed a quick attitude, not even remembering who I was singing for or what I was singing about. {{sigh}}. I’m so glad He is a forgiving God .

    Thank you, Sislyn, for the word today!! I hear HIM!!!

    • We arrive at that place awfully quick, don’t we, Debbie? Shockingly so. And we are so blessed to have a great God who loves us–you’re right– despite ourselves!!

      Lookin’ up,

  3. Kim Stewart says:

    This is great! I so live here. You totally spoke to where I am and where I want to be. Life is dirty! I am dirty! Boy do I blow it….especially when I feel my rights have been violated… thankful for grace! So thankful for your encouragement. So happy to find out about your blog!

    • Kim, you said it–even we Christians tend to focus on “our rights” and not having them violated. It is so hard to cultivate a mindset like Jesus!

      But like Pastor Marc said yesterday, “Dead man have no rights.” A very good way to remember we are not to trash our testimony in front of a world who watches.

      May He receive the glory!

      Lookin’ up,

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