Last Friday all of Michigan was a shade of gray, including my mood. It was a heavy-heart week during which I had had some harsh words for God and for some people I care about. I told Jamie that I’d pick up some flowers at Trader Joe’s so we’d have something cheerful in the house for the weekend.
I drove over to Trader Joe’s that afternoon before middle school pickup, delighted to see that there was no line of people stretching around the building. Since March, the most cheerful store in town has had pandemic lineup of 30+ socially distanced people waiting to get in.
But then I realized the parking lot was also empty, and I was disappointed to see a Trader Joe’s staffer walking toward my car. He told me there had been a power outage. He thought it would take a few hours before the power was restored. Shoot. I headed over to middle school pickup and back home with no flowers.
No big deal, except that I had been having a dark week, emotionally and spiritually. I had been asking God some hard questions and was getting no answer. As C.S. Lewis describes in his writing, it didn’t feel like a locked door from God, but rather like a silent compassionate gaze. It was infuriating, and I even threw a few things. That is embarrassing to admit. Trader Joe’s flowers wouldn’t have fixed it, but they would have cheered me up.
Later that evening, my friend Julie texted and said she was on her way over to drop something off. I was excited to see her face. She’s a favorite cheerful friend, and even though she lives close, I mostly see her face on Zoom these days.
When I answered the door, she had a bouquet of white tulips and a (big) bag of gummy candy. She said, “I was at Trader Joe’s tonight and you came to my mind. I thought I should get you some flowers and candy!” She’s the BEST.
They just made me so happy. I didn’t get the direction from God that I was asking for. I got flowers and candy from Julie. Julie is tuned into the voice of God. I have no doubt that the little nudge she got in Traders Joe’s that made me “come to mind” while she was buying flowers came from the Holy Spirit.
He talks about staying tuned into God, so you can discern the next right thing He wants you to do. Clare says, “Just do the next thing you are reasonably sure Jesus wants you to do and do it immediately before you change your mind.” (That’s the 10-second rule.)
He said that most of us dream of doing great things for God someday.
“The truth is, godly character is shaped less by our big dramatic decisions than it is by the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of simple obedience, done largely in obscurity.”Clare DeGraaf
(Like buying your friend some flowers and candy when she “comes to mind.”)
So how do we get better at saying yes to the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Obeying is going to cost us something – time, money, embarrassment, something. By doing nothing, we can save ourselves all that cost. But by doing each small thing, we join in the adventure of this story of God’s restoration of broken things.
So here are two things I’m trying:
Don’t be embarrassed.
It’s easier to pretend we don’t need anything from each other. But imagine a chance to be the hands of a loving extravagant God to someone who needs that extravagant love today. I was needy and broken this week, and I felt his love through Julie.
Do it right away.
If Julie had brought me flowers any other Friday night, I would have been delighted. But that particular night, I was delighted AND I really needed that exact encouragement at that exact time. She couldn’t have possibly known. (But SOMEONE did know.)
Who comes to mind as you read this? What sort of nudge do you feel?
Blessings to you today, friends.