Music In the Parking Lot

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Tonight I spent an hour in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I wasn’t talking to anyone or selling anything. In fact, it was midnight and I was one of only a handful of people there. I didn’t plan to be at Wal-Mart at midnight on a Saturday evening, and I certainly didn’t have any intention of staying in the parking lot for an hour. Instead, I planned a quick trip on my way home from my brothers house to purchase a few things we needed for tomorrow.

My shopping trip started out normal enough. I purchased my items, loaded up the car, and went to put away my cart. As I pushed it to the designated row, I noticed another cart and grabbed it, too. After putting the two carts away, I saw a third close by and went to get it as well. It was at this point when the thought popped into my head: “wouldn’t it be nice if I were to put all the stray carts on this row away?”

And now comes my reason for writing this post, because I’m not fishing for compliments or praise. In fact, I wouldn’t have been able to spend that hour in the parking lot had God not been working on my heart a few weeks before to teach me a lesson that I desperately needed in that moment. And that is what I want to share with those who read this…

When it occurred to me that I could possibly be a blessing to the person whose job is to put away the grocery carts by putting up those on my row (what if every Christian did this each time he was at the grocery? How blessed would the cart-guy at Wal-Mart be?), I really had a struggle to overcome. The problem wasn’t that I was running late, or that I was too busy, or even that I was too tired. The problem was that I didn’t want the few people who were coming in and out of Wal-Mart to see me putting up the carts. In my headcovering and nice skirt, I didn’t exactly look like a Wal-Mart employee, and as I began to step out in obedience to the thought I felt was God-inspired, I truly felt ridiculous. As a woman who wears a headcovering in a small town, I often get strange looks and I try to be as inconspicuous as possible most of the time. At that moment, however, I felt like I had a neon sign flashing across my chest and was sure that EVERYONE was staring at me. (In moments like this, my husband likes to say that no one is paying attention to me because they’re too worried about themselves. This is probably much closer to the truth of my situation, but it sure didn’t feel like it at the time!)

I have struggled a lot in the past with feelings of self-consciousness and one of the biggest difficulties in my Christian walk and ministry has been my fear of making a fool of myself. With every cart I put away, it seemed that ten more people were staring at me, all of them marveling at my ridiculousness. I wanted desperately to quit. Yet underneath that desire and the incredible embarrassment I was feeling, there was a part of me that knew I was being challenged. Would I rise above my own feelings of embarrassment to do something I felt God was calling me to do? Or would I choose to please man rather than God? As I struggled with this, I thought of something that God taught me a few weeks ago… a post I had written regarding this very subject. If you haven’t read the post entitled “Playing Unto God,” it might be helpful for you to stop and read that before you go on. You can find it by clicking the link below. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you. ;)

Playing Unto God

When I thought of Joshua Bell and the lesson I learned from his experience in the Metro Station, I was reminded once again that I was “playing unto God” and not man. It didn’t matter if the people around me thought I was foolish, I knew that this was something God wanted me to do, and I wanted to please Him.

I finished putting the carts away on my row, then decided to put the carts away on the row beside mine. It wasn’t long before the people started to fade into the background and it didn’t make the slightest difference to me any longer what they thought about my strange behavior. I became more concerned about pleasing God and being a blessing to the Wal-Mart employees than the reactions of those around me. When I finished putting away the carts on those two rows, I went on to the next. When I finished it, I kept going. In the end, I put away every cart in the parking lot and didn’t leave Wal-Mart until after 1:00 in the morning.

I cannot begin to tell you how blessed I felt, looking at that parking lot after all the carts were put away! I have no idea if my work was helpful to the cart-guy. For all I know, there are thirty guys in charge of putting away the carts in the Wal-Mart parking lot, and my hour of work only saved each of them five minutes of work. No one may ever notice what I did, and I may not have been a blessing to anyone. But the fact is that tonight was my first major victory over my own self-consciousness and that was a huge blessing to me. Tonight was the first time I put into practice the powerful lesson that God taught me through Joshua Bell’s Metro Station experience and it felt absolutely wonderful.

Tonight I found that when I keep my eyes on God, and “play for the Master” rather than “the masses” I can truly rise above my own fears and do the will of God – regardless of what others think. And you know what? That’s worth any number of hours spent in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Even if it is a little bit ridiculous. :)

Related Posts:

Playing Unto God

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5 Responses to Music In the Parking Lot

  1. astrugglingchristian says:

    I have for years questioned the existance of God, especially after becoming a Christian. Despite the obvious signs throughout the years… (he is usually gentle/subtle in his approach) lately though I think he’s finally gotten through… and he had to step up the subtle aproaches with something more hardcore (I’m pretty thick headed)

    Anyway, anytime I seriously start to question/doubt (since I’ve finally given in and am unashamed at admiting He does exist) he does not hesitate to show me the foolishness of it in a quick fashion.

    I have only very recently decided to try and live my life as Christ-like as I can.

    After reading this story of yours I was in tears before the end.

    You see before this significant change… about a month ago.. I was in a grocery store parking lot (late at night, probably around midnight) I usually go later than that 2-3 am… anyway I had just shut off my car, and was ready to walk into the store… when I caught out of the corner of my eye.. shopping carts… moving. The wind was strong that night and it was blowing them all over the parking lot. There weren’t a lot of carts, and even fewer cars in the parking lot. But for some reason.. I had this overwhelming urge to put away the carts that were in my row… I like you, was wondering what people might think of me.. if anyone was watching… I quickly put it out of my mind.. and then I wondered.. what if they thought it was because I was worried about my car? (I don’t care I thought, my car is old and I don’t care if it gets hit) I’m still going to put these carts away.. I laughed to myself and walked in and got my groceries. Walking back to my car.. I noticed at the last second a cart moving with great and sudden speed head-on towards the front of my car hitting squarely on the front centered on the license plate. A few years ago this would’ve made me angry, but that night.. I glanced upwards.. and smiled and laughed at God’s humor. He does speak to me, and he has my quirky sense of humor. Thank you for that story!

    • Rina says:

      Thank you so much for telling me your story. I’d like to tell you something else that happened last night, that I didn’t relate in my original post (in my article, I wanted to focus more on what I LEARNED than what I DID.) But I’d like to tell it now, as I think it might be a blessing to you.

      Last night, as I was putting away the grocery carts, I knew that God was teaching me a lesson about obedience, but I also felt very strongly that I was putting away those carts for someone else as well. I knew that I might be helping the Wal-Mart employees, but more strongly I felt there was someone that God was seeking to minister to on a spiritual level. As I put away the carts, I kept getting this thought of someone who was struggling in their relationship with God, and having a hard time believing in Him. In my minds eye, I could “see” that person “watching” me as I put away the carts, and crying as the reality of God was made real to them. This thought came back to me so often that I eventually thought that some Wal-Mart employee must be watching from somewhere that I couldn’t see, or that some security guard was going to end up reviewing the tapes from that night for some reason. I had no intention of ever posting about this (Jesus said that our “good deeds” should be done in secret and I’ve always tried to do that), but on the way home I felt absolutely compelled to do so and by the time I got home, going to bed wasn’t an option. I stayed up until five in the morning writing and I feel incredibly blessed to have been given the privilege of understanding why God moved in me the way He did.

      I want you to know that I believe wholeheartedly that you were the reason God moved in me to put up the shopping carts yesterday. I “saw” you “watching” me, and I felt God moving to show Himself real to you. I believe that God wants you to know without a doubt that He is real, and that He loves you very much. And I thank you so very much for sharing your story with me. It’s a tremendous blessing and incredible affirmation to know that God used my “foolishness” for His glory. I hope that you will continue to visit here and keep in touch with me, either through comments or by email. I’d love to get to know you better. I believe God has His hand on you, and that He has big plans for your life.

  2. Mrs. Parunak says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful post! The sermon I heard on Sunday was about how we are supposed to use our gifts to bless and give grace to the body. The preacher used the examples of various body parts and asked, “what if they wouldn’t share?” What if our heart kept it’s blood to itself? Well, the body would die, and ironically, the heart would die with it. What if the lungs kept their air to themselves? The body would die, and the lungs would die with them. Etc. When God gives us gifts, we need to seek to find ways to use those gifts to build up the body, NOT for our own glory, but for the Lord’s, so His body can be healthy. I think that is just what you did here by sharing your story and blessing “astrugglingchristian.”

  3. Erika says:

    Rina, I got such shivers running up and down my spine as I read your post, and then the comment after it. Now there are tears in my eyes, because sometimes it’s just amazing to see God at work. God knew that you were going to blog about your grocery cart experience, just as he knew astrugglingchristian was going to stumble on your blog. Just wow.

    Last night I made a commitment to God to take a step with my blogging… I’ve kept things so watered down and “politically correct” so as not to offend people who check in. Your post today is just proof to me that the deal I made with God was very real. I may never know the people who read my blog posts… but you just showed me that God can indeed use my blogging for a purpose, and I want to be open to Him and to what He wants me to blog about. Thank you so much for sharing…

    • Rina says:

      Erika, I’ve been subscribing to your Tummy Treasures blog for a little while now, but am sorry to admit that I’d never seen your other blog, Heart and Soul. I’ve spent the morning reading through it and I have to tell you that the things you write there are so inspiring. I think your blogging will be making a difference to at least one person from now on. :)

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