Devotions from Tri-City ELCA Pastors – Pastor Tia Pelz of Christ the King, October 22, 2020

Devotion from Pastor Tia Pelz of Christ the King, October 22, 2020:

The other day I met God at the grocery store. 

I have never enjoyed grocery shopping much. But there were definitely times when I liked it more than these days. Like when the kids were really little and going grocery shopping was my only legitimate “me-time”/ “personal space” (shared with tons of other shoppers, BUT not my own family, so, hey!). 

Those were the days. Since the pandemic started, I have been trying to reduce my shopping to a minimum. Every other week, our fridge smiles emptily at me and I have to go. So, I shop for 2 weeks in advance for 4 people who eat all of their meals at home or at least homemade. Plus, the kids are growing (and eating a lot). So, my cart is always packed. It hasn’t happened only once that a cashier would look at my cart and ask: “Are you shopping for more people?” And another time the lady stared at my bill and said: “Wow, $300, good for you.” And I felt a little ashamed that I had the means to do that at once. Knowing that so many people live paycheck to paycheck right now. 

Well, when I shop, I have a system. I know my grocery outlet by heart. First the bananas, then the dairy and meat products, then down the aisle to grab pasta and sauces for any given day (just in case), a short trip to the ice-cream selection, bread, eggs, chewy bars, crackers, cereal, things I consider essential in that moment (pizza, fries, Lindor chocolate, you name it) and a look at the wines. (No worries, we do eat our greens, I just buy that somewhere else😊) 

Yep, I have a great system. Just like in my life. And I hate it things get rearranged (I call it messed up). I don’t care about their reasons. At least at the store I want to keep my routine. I want to feel like I have control over my life, my decisions, my wishes. 

I have an even better system when I check my items out. Seriously, the belt looks perfectly stacked. I love it. Nothing gets smushed, meat sits with meat, yogurt on top of salsa and hummus. Eggs on top over everything. And then, the fun begins. Because I usually have to bag my own reusable bags. And I am in a hurry, because somebody needs to be picked up somewhere. Or the cashier looks stressed and wants to get on a break. Or there are people waiting in line. And so, I start throwing things in the bags. Frozen to frozen stuff, cold things with cold. Until I run out of space. And I start regretting part of the purchases. And I just want to leave and be done with this. 

I pay and carefully push the shopping cart. Suddenly, it stops. I forcefully push a little further – and then it’s stuck. No way to go back or forth. Helplessly I look around. A woman comes over, tries to help. No success. She walks back to he security guy. Asks him for help. He walks over and laughs. “See that yellow line? That’s where our space ends.” I didn’t pay attention to yellow lines. My car is parked on the wrong side of the line. And the cart is overloaded. The guy drags and lifts the cart to my car, helps me load it and frees me from this burden. I throw everything in the trunk, praying that no bottle will smash an egg and that no bottles will crash into each other when I have to break hard to let a pedestrian cross the street. 

At home, the fun begins anew, sorting everything into our limited kitchen space. Blaming myself for buying too much. And yet, after a couple of minutes there is some order again. 

Why am I telling you this? Because the other day when I packed my cart at the check-out, I laughed to myself. Thinking: This cart is my life. Things jump at me, people come into my life, unforeseen events happen (like a huge water melon on sale but my cart is already half full… I will have to reorganize everything). And once in a while I feel like I’ve got it, I can not only handle it but actually define the outcome. Until the belt is too short or there are people waiting in line or the cashier wants to go on his break. And then, I pack and stack like crazy. First orderly, than in a hurry. And when my bags are all packed, the potatoes and chips bags are still left, of course. And an avocado here and a butter there and those yummy Italian sausages that taste quite close to home. 

In the end, I will get it all home. And eventually put it away. And eat it. In the end things will work out. Except when they don’t because I forgot the chicken legs in the fridge and can only toss them out after 2 weeks. But mostly, things will work out. That’s life. Real life. 

And I imagine God being my shopping cart and my bags and my arms and my hands and the hands harvesting the food and packaging it and storing and selling it to me and the woman asking if I need help and the guy dragging my cart along. All of this is God. Helping me to bring peace and order into my chaos and messing it up right when I thought I had control. That’s my God. Guiding me through my life. 

Wishing you a godly messy day, Pastor Tia!

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