The art of life is to live in the present moment, and to make that moment as perfect as we can
by the realization that we are the instruments and expression of God Himself.
The stress lines were etched on the teenage clerk’s furrowed brow as she pressed the button summoning the next in line to her register. Greeting her warmly, I tried to elicit a smile, but she was intensely focused on ringing up my items. There were eleven in all, stocking stuffers I’d carefully selected for those who will awaken at my house on Christmas morning, one of my favorite traditions.
Observing her painfully slow process of ringing up each item, I decided to keep quiet and not distract her. Joe had gone to the car by then, and I began to feel irritated that he got through his line so fast and mine was taking forever. As she neared the end, I reminded her that I needed a gift receipt and handed her a gift card from a previous return. This seemed to confuse the young girl and soon a frustrating fiasco ensued, eating up perhaps fifteen minutes of my precious time. When the manager said we’d have to start over and ring up each item again, I sighed heavily, noting that it had taken forever the first time.
Head down, the girl whispered an apology as she fidgeted nearby. When the two of them finally finished, I mustered up a polite thank you and hurried to the car where I regaled Joe with the details of the annoying encounter.
This morning as I sat listening to Christmas music on Spotify and gazing at our beautifully lit tree, I thought of that girl, recalling the simple message in the Advent devotion I’d read yesterday morning.
To sin, to be hurtful, to choose selfishness, is to act as if God is not with me.
I was one of perhaps hundreds of customers that clerk dealt with yesterday, some perhaps nicer and others less kind, but the sobering truth is that I acted as if God wasn’t with me, when He surely was. Perhaps He waited for me to show compassion, to encourage her, to ask about her day or her life, lift her spirits or bring a rare smile to her weary face. Maybe I was to have presented a moment of peace--ironically a rare commodity this time of year--to the entire checkout line.
Instead I acted as if God was not there, not living in me, not a pulsing Spirit, ever longing for Holy expression.
If the incarnation reminds us of anything, it should be that because Christ came, we have gift of God’s presence in us and to us and through us.
What does it mean then, for us to act like it? With our families? Our neighbors? Our friends? The strangers we may never see again?
Since God is indeed with us, what difference would it make if we chose to act like it in our shopping and cooking and planning and preparing and partying and wrapping and giving and seeking to bless?
These thoughts move me.
God is with you, Tricia.
Now go act like it.