Can You Find God at Walmart?

By Eugene C. Scott

My wife Dee Dee delights in sending me on difficult excursions.

“Eugene, would you please run to King Soopers and pick up a gallon of milk? Oh, and I almost forgot, and some Star Anise, Lavender, and Mace?”

Back in the olden days, say 1995, before cell phones were common, that request meant I would wander up and down the grocery aisles for eternity lost and confused. Since the advent of cell phones, I only wander up and down the aisles lost and confused until Dee Dee answers her cell phone.

“Hello. Eugene! Where are you? I was getting worried. You left hours ago. No, not Sesame Street, Sesame Seed. It’s on aisle 9.”

Not me, but could be.

I don’t know what it is about grocery stores but I never know where anything is or what I’m really looking for.

Lost and confused is also how I’ve felt these last few days while on this “The Year of Living Spiritually” excursion. In my last blog I said I was going to spend 2012 on a daily search for the God-created soul–God sightings–in daily life. Finding Star Anise was easier especially since God picks up his cell phone less than Dee Dee does.

“God, what is it exactly I’m looking for?”

The first day, December 26, I was so busy trying to figure it out that I didn’t even read my Bible or pray. As I fell asleep that night, it dawned on me that was akin to being lost in the mountains and never pulling the compass from my pocket.

On the 27th I began the day by reading and praying. The prophet Haggai warned, “Give careful thought to your ways.” That made sense. Then I stumbled on a blog that defined being spiritual mainly as reading the Bible, praying, and going to church. Hmm. I do those things, especially the church deal since I’m a pastor and people would really wonder if I didn’t show up. But I’m not sure that’s all there is to it. I want to live spiritually not just do spiritual things once in a while.

December 28 was a full day. Busy. My daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren left to return home to Tulsa. Later that night, Dee Dee and I went to a 50th birthday party. Listening to the conversations and laughter, I began to notice the fine, golden thread of love for the esteemed 50-year-old that drew us all together.

Writer, pastor Eugene H. Peterson says people are God’s creation too and we can see God in them just as we might a sunset or mountain scape. True enough.

Maybe that’s why . . . wait I’m getting ahead of myself.

On December 30 Dee Dee and I stupidly ventured into Walmart. It was a zoo. People everywhere and we got a squeaky cart.

“I can’t stand this. Let’s come back tomorrow,” I whined.

“We’re here now and the party is tomorrow.”

We split up and met back at the cashier several decades later.

A bright-eyed, smiling woman checked us out. I had a large portable table in the squeaky cart but the bar code was on the opposite side of the perky clerk. I wheeled the squeaky cart around so it faced her.

She smiled at me, blue eyes open wide, scanned the table, and said, “Thank you.” Then she said to Dee Dee, “It’s nice to know you can still find some nice guys out there.” She nodded toward me.

“Oh, I didn’t find him that way. I trained him after I married him,” Dee Dee joked. Many a truth spoken in jest, I guess.

The clerk leaned over to Dee Dee and whispered something. Dee Dee’s smile sobered. Walking out I gave Dee Dee a look that asked, “What’d she say?”

“She told me she was lucky because she didn’t have to train her husband to be nice. ‘He married me even though he knew I had slight brain damage.’”

Both of us and the cart fell silent. Suddenly I was glad we ventured into the zoo and I thought I’d go back as long as the clerk with God’s eyes and God’s smile and “slight brain damage” would be there.

This living spiritually every day is hard. But maybe just heading out into the world with a new attitude and taking the time to look at people and events with new eyes is a good start.

Eugene C. Scott is writing these God sightings down daily in a journal and invites you to see the spiritual even in Walmart and join him in looking for God sightings in 2012. Also tell your stories about what it’s like. Comment here and join our “Living Spiritually” community by visiting and liking facebook.com/livingspiritually. Eugene still gets lost while shopping and is still co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

16 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

16 responses to “Can You Find God at Walmart?

  1. THIS is why I’m a part of The Neighborhood Church. Just sayin’. 🙂

  2. Georgie-ann

    Paul tells us to pray without ceasing, pursue good, seek peace, rejoice always, and many other things that require our being personally involved in our situations and maintaining an active connection to God simultaneously:

    1 Thessalonians 5:14-22

    14 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
    16 “Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
    19 “Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.”

    Being caught up with performance, ability, results, externalized doing, and surface appearances in a Wal-Mart situation, will almost always feel frustratingly piecemeal and draining. But praying in our hearts for God to help us “see” below/beyond the surface of people, places and things, can reveal a very different “reality” where we “know” that we do in fact share a oneness with one another,…even God’s love,…even with “strangers.” I believe when we “see” this, that we are perceiving a great mystery, and that God is opening our eyes and hearts.

    Where do we go from there? Usually more prayer and love, and sometimes an appreciating and affirming smile. When we enter God’s realm, He will guide us, and “it will be good.”

    A Wal-Mart greeter has a very unique opportunity!

    • Georgie: Don’t we all have unique opportunities? It’s just that we don’t get paid to do it or have it written explicitly in our job descriptions. Happy New Year and thanks for being a part of our community. Eugene

  3. Georgie-ann

    What I often “do” in Wal-Mart (for a small diversion and sometimes fun):

    arrive after 9p,…poke around & pick up my grocery items, some interesting looking recipe pamphlets, and maybe even a book from the “Inspirational” section,…mosey over to the now vacant seating in front of the closed pharmacy, have a seat, and check out the reading material for awhile,…if the book is interesting enough, I might be there reading for a longer time, chatting with the workers stocking shelves, smiling at some of the passers-by, always praying, always praying,…praying what?,…blessings,…

    • Georgie: I can see you doing this in my mind’s eye. Maybe those otheer people hanging out at Walmart are doing more than looking lost. Maybe they too are praying. Eugene

      • Georgie-ann

        It always feels special when eyes meet & we gently acknowledge each other’s existence/presence. Workers especially seem to appreciate some positive affirmation and a little chit-chat, and extra coupons for the Subway in the same building! It’s amazing how well developed our potential to “ignore” (or be critical of) other people in public has become, (maybe in private too!). And of course there are those who “appear” haughty or disdainful, a few might even look scary-mean, but most are hurried, busy, and pre-occupied, and sometimes mildly annoyed with other folks who are “in their way” — as if Wal-Mart was built for them and their personal schedule only. Kids can be a little more fun, but “a stranger” wants to be careful about another person’s children, so everything must be very “appropriate.” (It’s good “to be secure/comfortable in one’s own skin,” as they say, in these conditions. And, trust me, I have a good “growl” developed, if need be!)

        Fear, of course, underlies much of the generalized behavior patterns, although it may be cloaked in some self-protective or self-promoting, off-putting egotism, and approaching this cannot be done very well directly. This is why I love the osmosis effect of prayer and quietly disseminating God’s love. In Him, not only are we safe, but we are also not perceived as being interfering and “offensive.” In 1 Peter 3:4 we are counseled to “… let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” that brings our witness and testimony. “Peace on Earth, goodwill to men.” (Luke 2:14)

        I don’t really try to figure out individually what others are doing or where they’re coming from. I leave it all in God’s hands. They/we are His. But just like your check-out lady, more often than not, scratch the surface and you’ll find a nicer and more special person inside than you might have at first thought! It’s always good to “give the benefit of the doubt!” This is our shared, common “human condition.” And we can find plenty of it at Wal-Mart!

        1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are fellow workmen (joint promoters, laborers together) with and for God; you are God’s garden and vineyard and field under cultivation, [you are] God’s building.”

        btw,…I’ve seen photos from some of the more southern Wal-Mart stores! At least up here in the much colder northeast, people are usually fairly modestly dressed — (if I can put it that way!) — which makes “hanging out” with them a little more comfortable.

      • Georgie:

        I hope to meet you in a Walmart someday. You are delightful. Eugene

      • Georgie-ann

        I love what the Amplified Bible has to say about this:

        1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].”

        Praying for an increase in God’s love is very important!

      • Georgie:

        That is one of my life verses because it has taken God most of my life to get me to live in faith rather than fear.

      • Georgie-ann

        We’re all in the same leaky boat!,…only God can fix/seal the leaks,…once He has helped us, we know He can help anyone!

        Learning how to handle animals, being present to them with calmness and security-inducing strength and even touch-communicated love, is good practice for praying for people!

      • Georgie-ann

        I think it’s important to think about how and why fear is able to undermine our faith and love.

        Some “issues” are probably just too deeply embedded within us to see clearly, or to see at all. We might also have actual memories of real experiences that have confirmed our fears and our fear-nature to us, reinforcing our tendency to hold back on expressing our more positive, optimistic or hopeful selves.

        So, it’s always good to make just the smallest and most simple efforts at positive expression or connection with others, in order to “test the waters” both in ourselves and in others.

        Since the whole human race is completely infected with fear, suspicions, doubts, false interpretations of motives, real guilt and false guilt, unbelief and judgmentalness, and those who would also take advantage of these things and the vulnerabilities of others, it has almost become “a fool’s game” to even say “hello” to a stranger! And that’s not much of an exaggeration!

        But I just cannot accept that this is an acceptable way to live, holding everything back, just in case I might happen to “step on someone’s toes” inadvertently, or open an unintended “can of worms.” One of the biggest inhibiting factors comes when being fearful of some sexual innuendo being attributed to simple friendliness.

        These are real possibilities, but if we tread very softly and don’t overdo things, and clearly demonstrate that we’re operating within well defined and self-controlled personal limits, we can usually establish a safe identity and foundation from which to begin to project a friendly well-wishing persona out into the world!

        There are ways to slip through that “social fear net” that is holding everyone captive, and God’s holy spirit can be a good helper, guide, and teacher for us in this. ** (Big Hint!) ** If we let God choose our “smile and hello or corny remark” targets, we’re usually much safer than going with what might “seem to come naturally,” because “naturally” we usually tend to be more insecure, awkward, and even blinded, lacking good judgment, and somewhat accident-prone — (or hadn’t you noticed??)!

        Allowing “less” and “safe” to become faithful watchwords, as well as “genuine” and “honest” and “heartfelt,” we can begin to take our world-appreciating baby steps out of hiding and start putting them into practice.

        And, of course, what better place than at a local Wal-Mart?!

        I’ve had significantly much more positive feedback than anything else, and over time have grown a more positive and savvy personal identity myself, that would probably be better able to roll with any “punches” or “low blows” that might eventually come my way. In any case, from God-picked strangers, such things have been very few and far between — (remember: Matthew 10:36: “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household!” Sometimes family members are harder on us than the actual strangers we might fear!)

        Walking wisely, and “in the Spirit,” and praying in goodwill, I haven’t found as much to fear, as my own fears and inhibitions would try to tell me! If I have something positive to offer, I would now feel worse to hold it back or refrain from offering it!

        One more little “hint:” In our consumer programmed society, most everything “has a price.” I’ve decided, instead, to offer many things as “free” (as in “water of life, without price,” Revelation 21:6). In so doing, I remain in control of the quality and purity and the source, and nothing needs to be held back or denied due to artificial reasons or stipulations. It feels good.

        Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

        John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”

        Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

        (-:

      • Georgie-ann

        also:

        Acts 3:6 “Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.’ ”

        This is funny! In recently completing a “new to me” used car transaction, which had become quite a long drawn out exercise in frustration and patience for all concerned — (because of waiting “forever” for the Title to arrive from the previous interstate DMV deal), — as we shook hands & finally kissed good-bye (we’d gotten to know each other fairly well by then!), the young couple leaving turned to us smiling and said, “Now we’re going to do a ‘Georgie’!,…’Thank you and God Bless!’ ” I blushed and everybody cracked up! But it was “a good thing!” I’m not sorry at all! (-:

  4. I had lunch yesterday with a mentor. Though the man wore a grey head of hair and practically oozed wisdom, he never lorded over me. He was kind in a way I image Jesus may have been with his disciples. He was vulnerable too, inviting me to not only “sit at his feet” but to be his mentor as well.

    I saw a Pastor and thus I saw God.

    That man’s name: Eugene.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s