“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
I come to you today having JUST finished my last hour at Dollar General. I have been there for precisely 42 weeks. Get this, the DAY I interviewed at the middle school, I had been at DG for 40 weeks. Now for those of you who don’t know yet, the number 40 is very significant in Biblical terms. 40 anything: days, weeks, months, etc is significant. It’s the number that generally is associated with a period of testing. The law of first mention takes us to the very first time the number forty is mentioned in the Bible; can you guess where it leads us?
Noah of course! While Noah was on the ark, it rained for forty days and forty nights. Guess what it’s been doing all day here, RAINING! Right now the tapping of these keys is being accompanied by a tapping of raindrops on the roof and I love their symphony!
The thing is, part of me always knew that working at DG was a time of testing. Testing what exactly, well I’ve got plenty of theories, but I’m not sure about many of them. Patience was definitely a big one! My security was another; would I stand up for myself? And honestly, in the past, I never did stand up for myself let alone my beliefs. There was one instance where I was grocery shopping while fasting (never a good combo I might add). I went up to the deli to order some lunch meat for the kiddos who were at home and the high school student behind the counter offered me a free sample of the lunch meat I was ordering. I told him that was ok, I didn’t need to test it, I trusted him that it tasted good. But he pushed and was so insistent that I caved and took the meat and ate it.
Later, on the way home I was praying about the instance and God told me that He had used it as an object lesson – something that I would remember. He said, “If you can’t even tell a high-schooler ‘No’ in order to stand up for what you believe, how will you ever stand up to the sharks that will come to attack you for the Word you’re being sent to preach?”
Over the course of the last 42 weeks I have had to stand up for what I believe, time and time and time again. None of the occurrences were outwardly obvious that I was standing up for God’s Word to me, but I KNEW they were. Each and every time I had to say ‘No’ it was because deep down I knew that that’s what the Spirit wanted of me. It wasn’t easy by any means, but it did get easier through the process. I learned that I am the master of my time – not my employer.
I didn’t want to work at Dollar General, it was NOT the place I chose, it was the place I was assigned. God had me there for His reasons and for His purposes, reasons that I don’t have to understand to accept. It was His will for me to be there, not mine. And I fought Him tooth and nail the entire time too! I was NOT a happy camper about working at that place. Not that there was anything wrong with this DG, it’s actually a lovely place. It just wasn’t my first choice for jobs; in fact it was my last choice. However, when God and I go toe to toe on things, He always gets His way.
He wanted me to learn that whatever He says goes, no matter what. And no amount of foot stomping, fit throwing, grumbling or complaining is going to change His will. He knows what’s best for us, even when what He says makes no sense to us at all.
Another thing I learned is that I need to, we all need to, look at ministry differently. Most people say that pastors and evangelists are “out there doing God’s work” and all the rest of us are just working. NOT SO! We are ALL called to preach the good news to ALL the world. We don’t need a stage or a platform to do that. Sometimes all you need is a register and a name badge and a smile that says “there’s something inside me that’s making me smile even though this is not where I would choose to be right now”. Some would say that’s hiding behind the smile, but when the ability to push past my own wants, desires and dreams in order to serve my God and my community in a VERY humbling position, then it’s not hiding behind the smile. It’s so much more.
Every time I went in there it wasn’t because I wanted to be there, it was because God had called me to be there and in reluctant obedience I went. It wasn’t the customer’s fault I didn’t want to be there, it wasn’t anything personal; it was just me being stubborn. It was for those customers that I smiled. I smiled because I know the power of a smile and a positive attitude. I know that a harsh word stirs up anger but a smile can turn away wrath. In those 42 weeks behind that counter I could count on one hand how many people were outwardly mean or rude to me and I can guarantee that it was because they were having a rough day already, not because of something that I did. But I can also guarantee that there were at least some customers that would come in having a bad day and would leave feeling at least a small amount better just because I wasn’t nasty to them while they were checking out.
And that reminds me of something else! I can’t even begin to count how many times I asked the question, “Are you ready to check out?” Did I ask that question with those exact words on purpose? You’d better believe I did!!! Did anyone understand what I really meant when I asked them? No. But it *might* have put a seed in them that will bloom later.
Are YOU ready to check out?
Are you ready to go and meet your Maker and see what this life has been all about? When you do, do you know what He will have to say to you? Do you know where you will go? I’m ready to check out. I know where I’m going and I know what He’s going to have to say to me when I get there too. He will say that I believed on His Son Jesus to atone for my sins. I have, am and will continue to trust in the Lord Jesus to save me from myself time and time and time again. He has saved me, forgiven me, redeemed me, loved me, protected me, and so many other things I can’t even begin to list them all. He is my King and I am so grateful for Him! In the beginning of my testing was I angry with Him? More than you could ever imagine! Am I still angry with Him? No. I wore myself out thrashing around in anger and frustration and finally reached the point of exhausted surrender. I am grateful for the fire that burned off the cords that were hindering me so that I could run this race and not get weary. Did I enjoy going through it, not all of it, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be either because My God was with me the entire time! Today’s verse is so fitting, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Enter into His rest today my friends!