When the Lord first nudged me to wheel the grocery cart into the stall specified for them, I did it without question. But then there was a next time, and a next time. Every time I went to the grocery store, I felt the Holy Spirit gently reminding me to put the cart back.
I found it a little irritating. I have to confess that I very rarely put the cart back before this, and my conscience did not suffer for it. I wasn’t inconsiderate. I put the carts where they could not damage any cars. I often anchored them to the middle island nearest me so they would not prevent anyone from parking in a spot. But the whole issue of grocery carts and their return was one that never impinged on my consciousness.
So I was surprised when suddenly the God of heaven and earth was making it a deal.
Fortunately God knows me and it gradually became clear to me that there was something on His mind larger than grocery carts. For the life of me, I could not figure out what it was. One of my prayers that I often pray is for God to explain things slowly and clearly to me. I am always asking Him to clarify because I have learned that leaning on my own understanding is a great way to court trouble.
I experimented once or twice with not returning the carts. It felt bad to me. I felt like a two-year old saying no to her parent for no reason other than the need to say no. So I kept putting them back. Finally, I confided this bizarre religious experience to a friend. Wiser than me, she nodded her head and told me God was teaching me obedience. He does this, she went on to add, in order to make sure you know His voice, so that when He tells you to do bigger, scarier things, you will be in the habit of obedience.
It was a relief to me at first to know that God wasn’t spending His time concerned about grocery carts. But as I gradually got into the habit of putting them away, I found that He was asking me to do bigger, far more uncomfortable things. Part of the real importance of this exercise in obeying in small things was learning to trust that even small matters of obedience have a purpose.
If I could be trusted to come through on the still small voice urging me to do something that seemed unimportant, then I could be trusted to follow that same voice urging me out of my comfort zone.
Even writing this was an act of obedience. I felt that nudge and still my first response was, “Really? The whole grocery cart deal?” But now I understand God has a different agenda than I do. Like the karate kid learning how to wax a car, God trains us from the ground up until following Him becomes automatic. And I’m pretty sure that there will be a miniature grocery cart on my crown in heaven.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27