Jingle Bells blares over the SuperSaver loudspeaker as I navigate my cart around piles of oranges and apples stacked high. Candy bins brim with red and green foil-wrapped chocolates and miniature candy canes. Poinsettas sit regally atop shelves. Glitzy garland shimmers and sways above the displays.
But I am angry.
Angry at the elderly lady who rolls her cart too slowly toward the dairy aisle. Angry at the produce guy who wishes me a happy holiday as he stacks dewy lettuce beneath the misters. Angry at the three packages of frozen spinach as they tumble from the freezer case and clatter to the linoleum floor.
I pick up the spinach and stack them on the top shelf. And then I close the freezer door and rest my forehead against the cold glass.
My heart feels the same. Like cold glass.
We’ve had some bad news this week, and without getting into all the details, let me just say that my first reaction has been anger.
I swear under my breath at the mini van braking furiously ahead of me on the snowy road. I push the empty laundry basket down the basement stairs and watch with my arms crossed over my chest as it smacks the wall with a thud. I want to hurl the Christmas tree out the front door and tear the garland off the mantel.
I feel nothing but anger for two days straight.
And then, one night as I stand at the sink with my hands in soapy water, I feel something else entirely.
There’s only one reason for this, and I know it instantly. No person, no thing could break through this anger and pain…with one exception. And I know right then, as hot water runs over dirty pans and dusk settles over the white pines, that he is at work. Only God can snuff out pitch black darkness in an instant with the light of joy and hope.
I am reminded of this kitchen sink moment when we read about John the Baptist on Sunday, especially when I hear these verses:
“There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.” (John 1:6-8).
We tend to think of John the Baptist as special, unique, one of God’s chosen ones. And he was indeed an important contributor to Jesus’ story. But here’s the thing: John is no different from you or me. He’s not any more special, nor was his role any more important than ours. His purpose was simply to serve as a witness, a witness to a light that would dispel all darkness.
And just like John, you and I have been placed here to serve a purpose as well: to testify in our own special and unique ways about how God is present in our lives.
I know I tend to place myself in the center of my own story. I often make the grave mistake of assuming that I am the source of my own light – that I manufacture it through my own power and creativity. More often than not it takes something monumental for me to realize that God is at always at work in everything, and that he is the one and only true source of all joy and hope.
Last week I stood in front of a sink full of dirty supper dishes and felt the inexplicable flash of joy burn through despair. And in that instant I witnessed the power and glory of God.
This week I’ll be linking up with communities at Jennifer’s (God-Bumps on Wednesday), Ann’s (Walk with Him Wednesday) and Laura’s (Brag on God at Beholding Glory on Friday). Will you join me at their lovely communities to spotlight God’s wondrous work?
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