Raspberries and blueberries! That was all I needed from Trader Joe’s that particular day in June! Two items! We were in the first months of the Covid lockdown in 2020 and so my trip to the grocery store also included a brief wait outside as occupancy limits were in place to control the virus’s spread. I had been in this line many times during the pandemic and was happy that the cold of winter was now the warmth of summer. If only my heart had caught up with the season. The deep heartaches of the past few years were too numerous and hit every area of my life. I was given a sanitized cart and cleared by one of the terrific crew members to go into the store.
I had the layout of the store memorized by now and proceeded to the aisle that would lead directly to the fresh fruit section. Half-way up the aisle, with the cheese display on my left and jams and other spreads on my right, the Lord spoke to my heart, “Why are you anxious and troubled?” The list was immense! Again, my Father spoke, “Why are you so anxious and troubled?” Really?! He knew the list better than me! Why was He asking me?
Perhaps I needed to respond in faith and wait for his reply of comfort and assurance and so I recited the best verse I knew in times of anxious seasons, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:4-7 NIV). His response, “Why are you so troubled and anxious?” Ugh?! I just prayed back this great verse in faith and expected my heart to be comforted and experience His peace. My dejection amplified. What was going on?
I got up to the fresh fruit stand and the fruit I came for was cleaned out except for one large container of blueberries and one large container of raspberries. Both were moldy!! There were smaller packets of both types of fruit, but it was not cost effective! Ugh! Really! I only wanted two things and now both were moldy! I stared in disbelief and despondency. My heart was aching deeply, God was asking me a rhetorical question, His peace was completely absent from my life and my one attempt to find some small and tasteful joy for that day, if not for the past few years, was covered in mold! Everything had caught up with me at once and my heart started to drift into the abyss and darkness!
It was at that point I heard His voice, “Look, there are fresh cherries and lots of them, take one!” I looked down and saw twelve containers of fresh cherries and grabbed one. His voice again, “come over here, look, strawberries!” There was a display of fresh strawberries, 1 lb stacked containers and beyond the need to count. I had my choice and no need to worry if another shopper grabbed some while I was shopping.
Next the Lord, pulled me back to the cheese display, “you need cheese.” So, I grabbed two cheeses. His voice again, “grab another one” and so I did. As the Lord pulled me to this shelf and the next and to this display and that one my cart started to fill up. It was in front of the potatoes and onions bins, with the steaks and salmon fillets two arm’s length away, that I broke down crying! The word “best” had come to my mind and I started crying uncontrollably. It was a cry of relief from my anxious and troubled thoughts and a cry of joy at the goodness and love of God.
It was not so much my circumstances were creating a troubled and anxious heart, which they were, but deeper in my heart was the real root of the issue for my troubled mind, I was afraid of missing God’s best. That somehow, all the dark and stormy circumstances that were going on in my life proved I had somehow missed His best for my life and what I saw now was far from that ideal. In that moment, He reminded me that His Best was not some elusive thing but more like an eighteen-wheel truck pulling right in front of me where I cannot miss it! His best is rooted in His fatherly love for me, displayed in the most extravagant way through the shed blood of Christ on the cross to redeem me from my bondage to sin.
If God gave His Son up for me, why would I ever doubt that He is not planning the absolute best in every area of my life even if my eyes could not perceive that truth now given my circumstances. I left Trader Joe’s with a cart full of the most delicious and succulent of fare and a reminder that God’s best is rooted in His love for me as His beloved child.
This is the story behind Day 27: Extravagant Champagne: The Dry Bones of Fearing Missing God’s Best