My husband Matt and I did a brave thing over the weekend. We went to Walmart. Now, I go to Walmart every week for household items, but taking Matt is a whole different matter. He is not as used to being there and he gets quite excited by all there is to look at. Truthfully, he’s pretty much as bad as the children when it comes to wanting things that he comes across. I do my best to keep us focused but let’s just say, it’s hard work.
We had ventured in on a Saturday afternoon because we were in need of some new lights for our Christmas tree this year. Since we would be looking for lights, I also added a couple of other Christmas items like wrapping paper and bows that would be needed to get me through the hours and hours of Christmas wrapping that would soon be upon me. Matt had listened to my list as I read it from my phone on the way in from the parking lot, and so when we entered the store, he reached for a cart. But oh, I hate pushing a cart around a crowded store and so I insisted we could hold on to our things ourselves and didn’t need one. He lovingly glared at me – Angie, I think we’ll need a cart. To which I replied, Nah! We’ll be fine. And with that, we headed back to the Christmas area, which was about as far away from the carts as one can get. Of course, we were gathering things for about fifteen seconds before I had to admit to him, I guess we need a cart.
I have just finished teaching a ten-week study on the first part of the Old Testament book of Jeremiah. One of the repeated phrases that has really challenged me is used to describe the people of Judah who followed after the stubbornness of their own evil hearts. Instead of walking in obedience to God, the people had formed alliances with other nations and adopted their practices of worshipping and sacrificing to idols. Ultimately, this led to a broken covenant and disastrous consequences for individuals and the nation.
We all desire to follow our own hearts to a certain degree. We want to be right, we want our own way, or we want to be noticed. Because of these wants, we make choices for our lives without taking time to ask ourselves if what we want lines up with what we know to be true about God, what we read in the scriptures, or what we have discerned through time in prayer. For me, more often it isn’t that I knowingly want to do something outside God’s will, it’s just that I too often forget to consult Him on something until I’ve already made a mess. Because once we charge ahead, we can find ourselves standing with our arms overflowing with rolls of wrapping paper and packages of red and green tissue. We realize we can’t keep going because now we can’t really move from being so loaded down with the burden. Without some help, we’ll just be stuck there listening to the snowman and Santa Claus yard inflatables playing the same eight bars of overlapping Christmas songs. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
At Walmart picking up a few Christmas supplies, my husband just laughed at me and dutifully went to get a cart. He came back, helped me untangle myself from the too much I had picked up, and then even pushed the cart himself so I wouldn’t have to do it. He was offering advice and he was right and I didn’t want to do it so I followed my heart instead. I charged ahead with what I wanted because it was what I wanted. Then Matt’s love and grace saved me from the mess I created. It was just a trip to Walmart and wasn’t a big deal at all. I’m not suggesting we need to spend time in prayer and study to determine whether or not we need a grocery cart. I’m just saying I knew all along we’d need a cart but I didn’t want to get one so I didn’t get one. And then he ended up helping me because of my stubbornness. I am hopeful this unimportant situation at Walmart that gave us a good laugh stays fresh in my memory for times the stakes are a bit higher. Peace!