Despite the fact that I am *extremely grateful* for the resources and the ability to buy food, grocery shopping is not on my top ten list of fun ways to spend an afternoon, especially with children along for the ride. But this last time I made my way to our local grocer, I noticed something that just hit me as being extremely comical.
People don’t smile in grocery stores. (unless you work at Hy-Vee…then you have to 😉 )
In fact, the vast majority of people are all wearing the same countenance, “blank stares.” Everyone is in their own world, mostly oblivious to anyone else in the store, and their entire focus is completely mesmerized by the crazy amount of choices before them and the daunting task of finding exactly what they are looking for.
On this particular trip to the store, I even ran into (literally) a couple of acquaintances from church, at which point the whole “blank stare” comedy became even more hilarious. Here’s the scene: Bump our carts into each other (because we are so dazed). Look up at each other disoriented (because we just discovered we weren’t alone in our own world after all). Stare blankly for half a second before vague familiarity comes glimmering into our eyes… “Oh!! Usually, I see you when you look nicer and you don’t look like you have been wrestling 5 children and a grocery cart for over an hour. I think I know you!” We mumble hellos and move on down the aisle to stare blankly at the entire selection of bread products before making our routine choice.
In sharp contrast, do you know who actually enjoys grocery shopping? Whose faces aren’t glassed over with the “blank stare” of confusion and the “must finish this” attitude?
Okay, let me clarify a bit here! They don’t enjoy following your list or being told to sit still, but they do greatly enjoy looking at all the stuff, pulling all the stuff into your cart, or at least pulling all the stuff off of the shelves for you. My children have been known to spend a full 20 minutes in the toothpaste aisle, pouring over the options of children’s mouthwash (all 4 choices of them). Then there is the toothpaste with at least 12 options. And, heaven forbid, if we actually stop to look at the (–dramatic pause–) *toothbrushes*!
To prove my point, here’s a photo I snapped recently at Target in the toothpaste aisle. (Yes, that’s my son wearing socks and pajamas in the middle of the day in a public place. That’s another blog post…)
Children are enamored with the offerings of a grocery store. Adults….not so much. All of the bounty is simply “the norm” for us. We look at a vast selection of brightly colored produce and we walk through, picking up our “usuals” with blank stares, absently crossing carrots off the list and moving down to green onions.
As I was inwardly laughing and outwardly grinning at the hilarity of my discovery of Blank Stare Syndrome, the thought occurred to me,
“How often do we treat God the same way?”
I’m reminded of the verse in Revelation 4:8 that tells of the four living creatures. Each creature has 6 wings with which to fly around the very throne of God, and each have countless eyes “around and within” them to see God in all of His indescribable glory.
Truly Amazing! As these four creatures fly around the Throne of the Almighty, they are stunned by the countless new discoveries of His incredible glory, and they can’t help but continuously, breathlessly exclaim, “Holy! Holy! Holy!”
These four beings aren’t mindlessly chanting holy…holy…holy…holy in a monotonous rite. They are breathlessly attesting to the majesty of the great I Am as they see new glories of God with their countless eyes.
And how unlike us.
Just like in the grocery aisle where we mindlessly pick up the same things and expect the same things, we often treat God the same way. We remind ourselves of the same truths, but are content to keep our knowledge on the same familiar plateau.
Jesus loves me.
Christ is my Savior.
God is our Creator.
The Spirit lives inside me.
Jesus died for me.
I’ve been created for a purpose.
You can almost hear the monotony chanting in your own voice.
These are all great truths, but until we wrestle with them, until we seek after God’s own heart in a relentless pursuit of the truth, until we refuse to settle for what we’ve been comfortably familiar with and dive deeper, we are treating the incredible, timeless glories of God in much the same way that we do our grocery shopping. Thoughtless perusal of the peanut butter selection.
God wants more from us. He wants to give us more. The riches of His majesty and His wisdom are readily available and accessible; we just need to be willing to look. Consider the beautiful words of II Corinthians 3:18:
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.
For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Read those words again. Slower.
Through the saving work of Jesus Christ, we are even now beholding the glory of the Lord! More than that, we are being transformed into the same image from (–take a breath–),
One Degree of Glory to Another.
That is a dramatic, life changing truth! Who wouldn’t desire that? Just two verses back in II Corinthians 3:16, we read something key:
But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
In this specific context, Paul is referring to the “veil” as being a lost person’s blindness from Christ and being without salvation. Hence, when you turn to the Lord, that “veil” is removed and you are given the gift of salvation. But, I think that as Christians, we can also take some application from this. If we want that transformation, if we want to truly behold the glory of the Lord on deeper and deeper levels, we have to be willing to turn to Him.
We have to stop settling for the comfortable familiarity of Blank Stare Christianity.
What about you? What biblical truths do you hold onto loosely without allowing them to transform your life? What intentional choices can you make today to turn towards Christ in a way that allows Him to take you deeper?
Maybe the next time you make a trip to the grocery, you will notice the Blank Stare Syndrome and smile a little knowing smile, and hopefully it will remind you to refuse to treat the Almighty in the same way. I pray that you and I will choose to seek His face diligently, that we might encounter His glory more deeply, and that we might be changed from one degree of glory to another.
Bringing the groceries home… do you stop and do a little dumpster diving first? Come back soon!