I have to tell you about a grocery store clerk named John.
Recently I went into the grocery store with my mom. Mom has some health issues that at times gets the better of her and she finds the need to use a wheel chair when she runs errands. This particular day she needed her wheelchair.
We placed a basket on her lap and loaded it up as we went up and down the isles.
Once we were done we went through the self checkout lane. I scanned while mom bagged. When we were just about done a young man came up and asked if he could carry our bags out to the car. I was polite but said “no thanks”. We had managed while shopping so I thought we could manage the bags too. He asked again, insisting that is wasn’t at all a problem and that he was happy to help. Mom and I looked at each other and agreed to let him help.
He seemed eager to want to help us. Did we look that pathetic? I didn’t think so but I figured that he needed to impress a boss or something so we complied with his request. He grabbed a cart and loaded our few bags in it while mom paid for the groceries.
As we walked out to the car the young man asked if we were mother and daughter. I said “yes”. He went on to say how lucky I was to have my mom. He began telling us that he had lost his dad a year ago to a brain aneurism. His dad was only 59. We expressed our sympathies to him as he told us how much he missed him.
And then I was not prepared for what he did next.
His demeanor slightly changed. He became very focused and asked my moms name. When I told him he boldly stated that he was going to pray for my mom. He explained that every Tuesday he prayed for the sick with a few people from his church. He was going to add her name to his list. He then said,
I am going to pray that Jesus gives you all the strength you need and I’m going to pray for your holiness.
His words were clear and power-filled. We asked his name. It was John. We expressed our gratitude but he didn’t seem to hear us. He was intense but kind. He continued by asking permission to pray a blessing over my mom the next time he saw her in the store. She told him that would be fine.
And then he was gone. He walked back inside.
I was speechless.
I’ve never had an encounter like this before. This young man intentionally went out of his way to bless us. He took a bold risk by sharing his prayer ministry with us. He possessed a humble authority that was engaging and inviting. I was deeply touched by his compassion and care.
As the night unfolded his words began to shift inside me.
I’m going to pray that Jesus gives you all the strength you need and I’m going to pray for your holiness.
What an interesting thing to pray?
Most people would have prayed for healing, comfort or wisdom for the doctors, but not John. He prayed for all the strength she needed and for her holiness. The more I thought about it the more I wondered what he meant?
- Strength to endure
- For her struggle to create something divine in her soul
As I said earlier, mom was dealing with a challenging week. We had all been praying for healing and comfort, but maybe that wasn’t what she needed? Maybe God was up to something else? Maybe He knew better than all of us what she needed.
God revealing Himself through the covering of weakness. God being strength when there is nothing left inside us to generate a forward motion. God becomes visible and relevant when we walk where He is walking. He can be found most days in our mess.
This is a holy process.
We are never more near to God when our pain and weakness leaves us vulnerable before Him and He becomes the strength to do the next thing. We cannot share in His strength until we share our weakness with Him, when we get to the end of ourselves. Nearness to God comes by way of humility.
Maybe God was giving her what she needed more than what she wanted?
The strength of God. The nearness of God.
Sometimes God shows up in ways that we don’t ask. We want healing and comfort. We don’t get to decide how God moves. But when He moves His presence somehow trumps our needs and dwell in His greatness.
Mom said she thought all night about John. She was intrigued, a little mystified…was God doing a divine work?
I think God showed up and He was pushing a grocery cart.