Honeycutt: Just a slogan?
By: Jim Honeycutt
At the front of the store she stood, staring at the screen of her self-checkout register. Wearing a bright pink t-shirt, she stood out vividly, even though she was partially behind her shopping cart. And that flat cart was loaded with enough food to feed Cox’s army. Heaped up, standing at least three feet tall the groceries were stacked all over the cart. With a perplexed look on her face, she went from looking at the screen to looking at her supplies. With her billfold open and laying before her she pulled out a credit card leaving it beside her purse as she walked to the back of the cart. It was then I noticed the writing on the front of her t-shirt. Women Of Joy it read. Hmm, I wonder what that group is? I thought to myself. Then she turned around and I saw the back of the shirt which had more writing. Strong, in big bold letters was emblazoned across the top in the shoulder area with Philippians 4:13 in smaller less bold written below. Wow, that’s cool, must be a church group I thought. I wonder what all that means to her? But before I could ask my turn in line came and I got busy checking out. As I finished buying my two items, I felt the nudge of The Holy Spirit. Turning back to her I inquired if I might be allowed to help her as she appeared to be struggling with completing her purchase. She was by herself, though many people stood around her watching her dilemma unfold. With a curt smile and a dismissive no, she reacted in a way that told me to leave well enough alone. Picking up my items I headed to the door to leave. Getting all the way across the register area just before the door I realized I had left my receipt on the counter. Returning once again to the self-checkout I had used, I saw she was still there with her belongings spread out on the counter with her back facing the register digging at the things on her cart. Feeling compelled one more time to offer my assistance I simply said, I am here if you have need. Turning her head briefly at me without a word she continued with her labor. Walking away I pondered what had just taken place.
I will make no judgement upon the women as to why she didn’t want any help. Yet, I will share with you what The Lord impressed upon me as my lesson learned from this encounter. Also, I need to make sure you understand I am speaking this first and foremost to myself and that it is reflective of the way I have behaved in the past. God has just used this example to reveal my heart and the faulty way I think sometimes. So ready or not here goes.
How many times have I worn labels either in print or by verbal confession that weren’t really reflections of my heart? They really didn’t state the true affair going on deep inside me. Who do I think I am fooling by saying I am joyous when I am not, certainly not my Heaven Father. Along with that, do people really believe I am joyous when my actions and attitudes seem to suggest anything but that? Joy, true joy comes as I grow in my relationship with God, that comes as I read His word and walk with Him closely. My joy will always be self-evident, it is more than words. No need for a t-shirt announcing it.
How often do I desire for others to think I am strong, when in fact I feel weak and broken? But pride won’t let me admit my need. Someone offers a helping hand, and it doesn’t come in the way I wanted so I reject it. Then I wonder why God isn’t empowering me to do it on my own. When he just sent the answer to my need before I even asked. It makes me feel I should embrace the label weak but empowered by grace.
Have I worn or quoted scriptural verses as I would a catchy clever slogan, without contemplating or living out their message?
So I read once again and reflect on the verse Philippians 4:13 which says: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. And I have to confess that the strength promised here doesn’t originate in me nor does it mean God’s way of empowering my strength won’t come from someone else. Someone sent to help bare my burden. In fact, this verse doesn’t give me a clue on how He is going to do it. Just that in Him it can be done. I think occasionally we expect or at least I do, for God to pull some miraculous rabbit out of His hat to answer my immediate desire for strength. And that isn’t what this is meaning at all. It means that in the person of Christ Jesus I will have what I need to accomplish what He calls me to do, whatever that may be. Strength comes in various forms and I am not limited by the usual norms, for I am strengthened by The Creator of all things, of all forms. I must be open to all the ways God empowers, not only myself, but all parts of the Church body.
One of my favorite old hymns from my childhood is, What a friend we have in Jesus. The first verse is: What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer. Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear! All because we do not carry everything to God in Prayer. I must have joy be more than a t-shirt, more than just a slogan. I must allow it to be my hearts truth. And that comes by spending time alone with God in prayer.