There are times where a sermon will hit home and I feel deeply affected by the words and message. I know that I will change my direction and employ this new found discovery to the betterment of myself and others.
There was a sermon recently which asked me to re-examine my values and see if they might measure up to the standards of Christians and their supposed ways of behaviour. Examples were given but the one which spoke to me was a situation in which I was to imagine leaving a store and discovering I had received too much change. What do I do then? I suppose the thing to do would be to go back in and rectify the situation. Since I had recently actually done that I felt pretty good about myself and vowed to re-double my efforts and stay on course. Oh I imagined the good things I could do, all the arms I could take and help in one way or another to see another through a day. I could imagine returning others carts at grocery stores, helping carry a load for others metaphorically or otherwise. I would quietly go about life doing deeds and employing behaviors which I could feel good about my role as a person and a Christian.
Please understand that I already employ some of these ideas and always feel better for doing so. I realize that I am not doing this for any greater glory, I am doing this so that the mix in this life will be more in favour of peaceful living and perhaps more smiles than frowns. While doing this it is possible I may be employing Christian behaviors and values.
I sat throughout the sermon itching to do something to help someone. I was sure that my outlook would be the brightest and most giving. Look out!, a Christian do-gooder is on the loose, the warmth of my love and joy would melt snow. It would be Reverend Martin Luther King driving a Honda.
It just happened on that day I had to go to the grocery store. For a Sunday it seemed surprisingly busy, the parking lot was full and people were going in every direction. As I walked in I noticed a woman pushing an empty cart back toward the store. Aha I thought a good time to employ my Christian values and help. I walked towards the woman and asked if I could help by returning the cart. “NO” was the response and she doubled her pace slamming the cart into others waiting to be returned to the store. Ok I thought, perhaps a thorough prune enema might do her some good.
Wait a minute is this even the thought I should consider? Even In what is left of my mind it is possible that this thought should not be present. Oh well I did not respond in kind and so I could take refuge in that. Vowing to re-count the sermon I pressed on.
The store was crowded and traffic jams seemed everywhere. Try as I might getting through the chore was a trial. Forgetting and doubling back seemed the order of the day.
Finding items sold out and often damaged was very common. Oh well I was finally ready to go to the counter and pay for my groceries.
What is this? I could see there were fourteen checkout counters and only four open. The lines stretched to North Bay. Frustrated I took my place and inched my way towards the checkout counter.
Why is it I wonder, when you are waiting for what you consider a long time things seem a little more miserable. The twins wedged into a shopping cart ahead of me were especially annoying. One was picking its nose while the other shrieked like a banshee. All the while mom oblivious picked through the magazines eager no doubt to find out if Brad and Angelina had divorced yet. Suddenly it dawned on my olfactory, one of the twins had messed their pants. Just as suddenly my attention was diverted as the cashier and a patron were arguing about the price of something and this was no ordinary disagreement. Neither side was willing to give in and the next thing someone was being dragged into this mess to do a “price check”. Even when the person arrived with the price the customer was in no mood to listen and the argument increased in volume. The next thing I knew the manager was there and the argument now involved four people. So there I was deafened by the screaming twin, delighted by a smouldering diaper, impressed by moms lack of caring and witnessing an ever escalating argument. I wondered why in this area cousins were able to marry and have children.
I managed to maintain an outward calm and I struggled through the process. I loaded my car and was leaving the parking lot when it dawned on me how many negative feelings I had experienced and how unkindly my thoughts had been. I had opportunities to be more patient at least inside my once generous brain. Martin Luther King indeed. From the church to the end of this experience could not have been more than an hour and all my good intentions had disappeared.
I don’t know how impatience could take over so fast, how generosity of spirit could disappear with the wind and how I could be so unhappy so fast. I had gone, in my mind, from a splendid example of great intentions to another snarling creature.
I guess since I did not express myself as negatively as I was thinking and no one lost limbs I can count myself lucky. I imagine my strength of faith did not seem to have much underpinning and embarrassment at the difference between my intentions and the outcome seemed the order of the day.
God please forgive this man of good intentions.
However, look out tomorrow, I will be doing good and helping my fellow man with his wants and needs indeed I will be Martin Luther King driving a Honda.