Today while running 9 errands against my will, I was muttering to myself about how much I hate to shop when something happened to yank me out of my misery. I got a compliment.
The 20-something check-out girl at Home Depot smiled as she handed me my change and said, “I really love the color of your shirt. That blue looks pretty on you.” Then she turned to her next customer.
As I walked to my car, I thought about how good that felt, 10 seconds of kindness. She’d gone above and beyond the norm while I was operating well below it.
When I had started my errands, all of which were overdue and half of which were complicated enough to fail, I’d been irritated. By the time I got to Home Depot (errand #5) I was scowling. But by #6, two things had happened. My downward spiral was on the up-swing, and I’d been convicted of my poor behavior.
Not only had I ignored the blessing of being able to run errands (having transportation, time, money, etc.), but I’d abdicated quite a few opportunities to be a blessing to others. Focusing on self had prevented the lifting up of others.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the earthly life of Jesus, especially his human side. He sure didn’t have it easy and had unnumbered reasons to dwell on the negatives.
Most likely he was poor, without any luxuries or privileges, and it’s probable he lost his father as a youth. Also, after beginning his ministry, he was continually on the move without a home-base. And daily he dealt with opposition and criticism. Worst of all, though, his own death hung over him like a sledgehammer. Yet he persevered in helping others and in accomplishing the tasks his Father assigned him… with joy.
So, what tasks has God assigned to me? One thing I know he hasn’t assigned is for me to pollute the general public with grumpiness and frowns. How difficult would it be to model my behavior after the check-out girl by bringing good cheer to strangers? Not very.
Then why don’t I? Good question.
Jesus told his disciples he was joyful, and he also gave them the key to owning that same level of joy: obedience. Submitting to him causes us to be surrounded by his love, which in turn fills us with joy. It isn’t complicated. It’s just choosing the right mindset, which is a determination to do things God’s way.
As my day ended, all 9 errands had been successful with the last several being downright joyful. As we used to say when we were kids, “A smile is just a frown turned upsidedown.”
“When you obey me, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father and remain in his love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:10-11)