The hustle and bustle of the season is here, and as a wise young man once said, “Good grief.”
My wife and I were walking through the parking lot of Walmart the other day when she began to pray, “Lord we just ask that you give us patience…”
My head and shoulders sunk, my eyes rolled, and my lungs let loose with a moose-call of a sigh.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked.
“You asked the Lord for patience…don’t you realize the ordeal that will be put before us just so that He can prove that your prayer was answered.”
My wife knows well enough that it pays to ignore at least half of what I say. To that end, she has pretty much become a millionaire over the years.
But today I wanted to be heard, “Why couldn’t you pray for some empty checkout lines or at least an ample number of cashiers?”
My dear wife just smiled and with each and every step became ever more the money grubbing miser.
Made me wish I had gone shopping with Ebenezer Scrooge (or at least Bill Murray).
Because I know that everyone of us has had their own experience with checking out at Walmart, I will not bore you with the details of our shopping experience that day. Let me just quietly say, “I WAS RIGHT!”
Try and ignore that, Mrs. Scrooge.
What She Should Have Prayed For
Of course, that little story of levity was for the purpose of entertainment only. The truth is that I find it an essential exercise to pray every time I trek into Walmart (and not only during the holiday season).
But instead of praying for patience, I find it better to pray for joy. Pray for an over abundant, radiating, and contagious amount of Christmas Joy.
I know. I know what you are saying to the computer screen right now… “How, how in the world do you expect me to display some Christmas Joy when I am about to step into Walmart (or the mall, or any store during holiday season really, or…who are we kidding – it is ten times tougher at Walmart!) and go to battle against no parking spaces, wobbly shopping carts, guilt trips brought on by a ringing bell and red bucket, whining kids, crying parents, jammed aisles, empty shelves, long lines, rude customers, overwhelmed employees, and that person still ringing their bell as they look at me and then look at their red bucket and then look back at me in that special way to remind me that I said, ‘I will on the way out.’ How is that humanly possible?”
How, how, how indeed (please note the play on Santa’s famous phrase).
The ‘Why’ is More Important than the ‘How’
I recently had an opportunity to reminisce with a coaching friend of mine on the way in which we always tried to get our football players (It all comes back to football) to understand that the ‘why’ you want to accomplish a goal is always a more important factor than the ‘how’ you are actually going to accomplish said goal.
For example: If a team can find in their heart enough reasons ‘Why’ they want to win a state championship game (for family, friends, teammates, the hometown,…), then the ‘How’ they are going to win enough games truly becomes a secondary function of that end result.
So, do you have in your heart a big enough ‘Why’ to help you find and keep that over abundant, radiating, and contagious amount of Christmas Joy?
Why Keep Your Christmas Joy
Why? Because you are fortunate enough to actually need a parking space.
Why? Because you are going to make someone very happy with what you put into that wobbly shopping cart.
Why? Because that ringing bell and red bucket reminds us that we are giving just a little gift in celebration of the birth of One who gave so much.
Why? Because those whining kids aren’t yours…this time.
Why? Because that parent might be crying over the loss of a loved one.
Why? Because those jammed aisles are filled with God’s children.
Why? Because those empty shelves are an indication that we still live in a most blessed nation.
Why? Because those long lines provide us with a greater opportunity to spread the good news.
Why? Because your battle is not with that rude customer, that person of flesh and blood.
Why? Because that overwhelmed employee has likely had to deal with too many persons of flesh and blood.
Why? Because someone is watching, and you are either going to draw them closer to the faith or put a barrier between them and the opportunity for eternal life.
Be that city upon the hill that shines with Christmas Joy, my friend.