This weekend was rough as Caity rounds the corner for the final lap at her job. The fact that the Haggen grocery store she has worked at for eight years is closing has given us cause for both great joy and reason for concern, both of which we’ve learned how to submit foremost and with gratitude at the feet of Jesus. (For those of you who aren’t sure what I’m talking about, please feel free to read my previous post Open The Floodgates).
So on Saturday, she came home physically exhausted…and it showed. She collapsed upon our couch and her black curly hair, normally pulled back into a meticulous up-do, was now splayed open with flyaways in every direction as if shocked by a nearby electric socket. She closed her eyes, and with a moan she proclaimed her immobility. Her body was sore from the physically demanding work of standing and checking non-stop all day.
Yesterday, Sunday, she left for work in the morning and somehow I got it into my mind to do something fun and encouraging. Caity has always been very talented at chalkboard art and I’ve been wanting to find a way to show my support and give her an extra boost of joy about it. The kids and I packed up and went to Home Depot where we bought a couple of chipboards with the chalkboard lamination and we had them cut at HD into 3 different sizes. On the biggest board I drew heart with “C+D” in the center; on the smallest board I wrote “Sign Me Up” (an ongoing pun we have about a chalk-art sign business we’ve been tossing around); and on the medium sized board I wrote Hebrews 6:10-11 “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized.” I’m not sure why I chose this verse, but rather happened upon it and decided it was appropriate. As it turned out, it was VERY appropriate as Caity called me on her lunch in tears letting me know that the encouragement could not have come at a better time. The kind of customers that she had been dealing with were the extreme bargain hunters, at the store for the extreme mark downs and lacking decorum or kindness; and one in particular had just finished saying a bunch of horrible things to her while throwing a huge tantrum. Caity and I were able to simply take about twenty minutes over the phone to reaffirm that our task at this moment was to finish this final lap, to finish running this race, to cross the line with our focus on Christ, and to serve God by loving people…and that included the grouchy bargain hunters.
The store’s closing has been emotionally and physically demanding and draining for my wife and me. To see friends we’ve made at the store going off in different directions and watch the staff dwindle down to only ten people has been hard to watch; yet at the same time we’ve both been excited for them all at their new found places of employment. As for Caity, she won’t be continuing on for Haggen and in fact she will be leaving the grocery/retail industry all together. This is not because we have anything else lined up, but rather as a response to Jesus’ call upon our lives to test our faith in Him for this moment. We have resisted the urge to problem solve, to plan ahead and find a new job in the same line of work; mostly because we recognize God’s direct intervention in these circumstances. In a very real and weird way, closing the Haggen store in Shoreline is a direct answer to a strong petition of prayer we made back in July…though this result is not at all what we expected.
All the same, we are truly excited about the the fact that we have openly and nakedly placed our trust and our destiny in the hands of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We have the certainty of faith as well as encouragement along the way that He is in the process of closing a door behind us before He opens the one before us. We don’t know what our future looks like, but we have the assurance of being led to the next stage of our journey with Jesus and the next stage of our life’s ministry with others.
As a final note of encouragement to all of you who are feeling stressed and uncertain about your circumstances right now, I would like you to consider the prospect that pressure is the messenger of good things to come. You cannot get oil without pressing the olives; you cannot get wine without crushing the grapes and you cannot get a diamond without placing carbon under extreme pressure. If you feel like you are under extreme pressure right now, then take heart because God is trying to bring out the best in you.
SED EGO DIGREDIENDUM