Wednesday, October 3, 2007

C-Store Lessons

It's past 1 am right now and here I am blogging like a crazy woman. :P Foolish me for drinking an energy drink at 9 pm to make it through my shift.

Working at the convenience store and not being sick anymore is awesome! I've really missed the people and the opportunities to talk about Jesus. Yet, as much as I think and like to talk about God - I didn't do much of the talking tonight. I realized, that with my new found "fundamental thinking" (scary for me) I feel lost on how to respond to those around me. Suddenly, I am very aware that these people need Jesus - for more than their temporal needs, but for their eternal salvation as well.

I can tell that the Lord is using the store for various purposes in my life right now. I have time with Him in the cooler. Tonight, I was finally able to get back in there for the first time in months. While inputting invoices I can listen to sermons and feel so spiritually fed and uplifted from them. And through the people at the store - it seems I'm always able to put into practice at least one new habit or practice that was discussed or taught in a sermon I was listening to.

The Lord is working on patience in me. If I perceive anyone as being "like" my mother, Sheryl - then I will run as fast as I can away from them. Huge red flags are waiving all around Rosa that she is like Sheryl - deceptive, manipulative, and so forth - but I keep reminding myself that she is a creation of God's and that Jesus can change anyone. That I am simply called to love and serve others, not always like them. Now, I've got someone to build me in that area. Just because she drives me crazy, doesn't mean that I'm supposed to shun her, but rather develop patience and turn to God with my frustrations.

Motivation. Since having kids my motivation has slowly dwindled to all thought and less and less action. Tonight, Jimbo came into the store and told me about how his jacket was stolen. Apparently, he has taken in a dog and the missions around the store won't allow dogs in. I've been so grateful for the cooling weather here in Vegas, able to finally open up the house and turn off the ac for most if not all day, go outside and play or just walk, it's been great. The nights are perfect for me. But I hadn't thought about what they must be like to sleep on the pavement all alone. He explained that it was starting to get cold. God stirred me to serve the homeless months ago and all I've done is brought dinners and Bibles. What good am I doing? When I show up with a plate of food in one hand and a Bible in another, am I really serving or self serving? Pastor Devin wrote in a recent blog of his that "churches must be aggressive with the gospel" - in my mind I immediately envisioned Christians distributing tracts, air preaching, and door knocking. I've learned - and had a great example set through the community service at Grace Point - that "aggressive" doesn't mean that the bullhorns come out and the boxing gloves go on. For GP, it's about serving without an agenda. But what will it look like at the mart where I work? What does God have it planned out to look like? I have a friend who came to Christ, because people offered to pray with or for her for needs and other things, even when she didn't believe. Does God want me to pray with people? I really hope not. :( Do I bring meals to the men and leave the Bibles at home?

Finally, the Lord is bringing me to a new level of "brokenness" (I use this to mean to change my way of thinking). While LDS, I believed that if someone died without the restored gospel, they would get a second chance of sorts and the gospel would be preached to them in the Spirit World. However, now that I realize there is no waiting room Spirit World to teach everyone about Jesus between the time they die and judgement, that there's physical death and then heaven or hell - I'm realizing that saying to an atheist, "Hey that's cool," or "You're in your own place right now. But God's watching over you" just isn't going to cut it anymore and to me, just isn't acceptable. Really, I can't look at an unbeliever and smile and say, "Great, you don't believe in Jesus. That's wonderful. Have a great day." Because they don't have the make believe safety net there that I always believed was and their life won't be judged on how "good" they were according to the world or their own standards but simply on if they accepted Jesus or not. Which brings me to tonight's conversation and rewinds me a year ago.

The store was packed - a usual during swing shift, and the cooler was empty. Rosa rushed in to fill the cooler, and I took care of the register and customers. There was a lull in the customers and I noticed a lady waiting for Rosa. She stated she was Rosa's sister (later found out just close friend). During the lull, she leaned on the counter and asks, "Do you smoke?"

"No, sorry." I wasn't sorry - but I was trying to be polite.

"Ah, what's wrong with you?" She shuffled back to the slot machines and looked back to the cooler for Rosa.

Feeling as if the mood were lighthearted, I said, "I guess I value my lungs,"

Taken aback it seemed, "Well that's hypocritical. You live in Las Vegas - there's more smog here than in California and it's worse than smoking."

"Well, I can't save the ozone layer by myself. I can't stop pollution by myself. But God did give me this body which is His temple to dwell in and how I treat it is how I honor Him." I could not believe I just said that.

Earlier, when I thought the mood was lighthearted - I was wrong. "It's good that you believe in God, because I sure as hell don't."

Then of course, the next rush of people flooded into the store and she left. Before, atheism hadn't really bothered me (or any other false religion) - because sooner or later God would reach them with the restored gospel, this life or in the "Spirit World". Now, I realized, this woman could walk out in the street, get hit by a car and if she really didn't believe in Jesus, really didn't call Him Lord and Savior - then the Bible says she would go to hell. Yes, the gospel transforms lives - but really, is it temporal lives we're trying to reach and change or is it eternal salvation we are trying to share? Both, but in the scope of things, eternity will always outweigh the temporal.

It reminded me of a year ago because it might have been one of the early "core shakers" that God was doing something in me. I had stopped in a Christian bookstore, really for directions but for some reason just hung out checking out the books and flipping through their apologetics section. It came up that I was LDS at the time and the store owner spared no time trying to save me. At the time, I was in my Bible daily, was in LDS apologetics daily - both discussion boards and books. I felt confident. So, when the storekeeper began down his road of Biblical contradictions, I listened enough to make a mental list of what to address and began thinking of my response. And then he stopped talking and looked at me, waiting for my reply. I smiled, I knew what I was going to say, I could practically see it as if I were going to type the reply in a blog or a discussion post - and then all of sudden, I couldn't say a thing. I was speechless, my memory was blank - was the passage I wanted Job 1:6 or Jude 1:6? As I stood there, blood rushing to my cheeks, my throat felt sealed shut - all the answers to his questions and rebuttals to his criticisms suddenly locked away in my mind, the only thought that I could lay a hold of was one word, "God".

Throughout the book of Proverbs, it discusses the wisdom of holding one's tongue and thinking about a response. Tonight, God knew I had no reply to give and so everything worked as it should. A year ago, God knew I was defending a false religion and that not even His Word was getting my attention on it's falsehoods, so He got my attention by freezing me. He gets my attention when I don't even know that He is lacking or in need of it. He never ceases to amaze me.

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