Faithfulness in the Fig Newtons
It was a typical Thursday morning, if there is such a thing.
I was trying to get through the commissary quickly because I had places to be later in the day. As I barreled down the chips and cookie aisle, I passed an older gentleman rustling through packages of cookies. As I walked by him I heard that unmistakable Voice:
That’s a faithful man.
“Huh. Why do You want me to know that?” I responded as I turned the corner and headed into the cereal aisle.
No answer. But the words I’d just heard kept echoing through my mind: That’s a faithful man.
I hesitated in front of the oatmeal. It seemed like maybe I should go back, but I realized that I’d not even really looked at the man when I went by. I had no idea what he looked like or even what he was wearing. I glanced back toward the end of the aisle and saw an older man push a cart past. I thought maybe that was him. He probably wasn’t even still in the aisle.
But I couldn’t shake it the idea that I needed to go back.
I took a deep breath and turned my cart around and pushed it to the end and back around the corner. I glanced down the aisle, expecting it to be empty of all potential suspects. But nope…there he was. I knew the moment I saw him that he was the man.
Now it was time to cross the chicken line.
I pushed my cart just past his and then turned it around so it was facing the proper direction for me to return to the cereal aisle.
“Excuse me, sir,” I said, getting my first good look at him as he turned to look at me.
And that is when I knew. I was about to deliver a message that was the opposite of that man’s reality. I’d never seen him before, but everything in me knew it. Nevertheless…I knew what I’d heard.
“When I was pushing my cart past you a moment ago I heard God speak to my heart and say ‘that’s a faithful man’. I thought you might like to know that’s what God says about you.”
He wouldn’t meet my eyes. “Well, thank you,” he said, not sounding entirely convinced.
“He loves you,” I said. “Sometimes it’s nice to hear what He thinks about you.”
He nodded a little, still not willing to make eye contact. “I need all the help I can get”, he replied.
I smiled and began to push my cart on.
“We all do.”
And then I went on with my shopping. I never bumped into him again as I went up and down the aisles to complete my grocery shopping.
I finished my commissary trip with all kinds of questions. I mean, really…what was that about? Was he too busy thinking I was a lunatic to consider that God really wanted him to know that He liked him? Did he understand that I really heard God say that? Did it make any difference that I’d obeyed and gone back? Because it sure didn’t seem like it made a difference.
I don’t have the answers to any of those questions, and likely never will. I heard God speak, I sensed what I was to do with His words, and then I obeyed. What He does with that is His business, not mine. I know that God knows everything about that man, and for some reason He wanted that man to hear that He thought of him as faithful, in spite of any evidence of behavior to indicate otherwise. I have to let that be enough and let God do with it what He will.
Obedience is easier when there’s a reward dangled in front of you. It’s harder there’s no guaranteed outcome. It feels riskier. But not obeying takes me farther away from my goal instead of moving me closer towards it.
I want to rush to obey quickly, with no arguing, no doubting, no trying to talk Him out of it. I want to be trustworthy with what He says to me; I want Him to know that if He wants something done, then I’m His girl because I’ll hop right on it with no regard for the chicken line. And the only way to build that kind of relational habit with Him is to build that kind of relationship with obedience, and not just obey the things I understand or the things that might give me warm fuzzies because I get to see a positive outcome that confirms I did the right thing.
Somewhere tonight there is an elderly gentleman who heard clearly that God thinks admirable things about him. I don’t know what that changes for him. But I do know that God likes His kids to hear that He loves them and thinks thoughts of goodness toward them.
He is, after all, a very good Dad.