Spiritual Experience in the aisle at Meijer

The image “http://a1204.g.akamai.net/7/1204/1401/04012011011/images.barnesandnoble.com/images/7310000/7315318.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Last night we went to Meijer. Lindsay heard that they were having great sales on kid's clothes. I hate shopping for clothes, so we split up. Isaac and Eli were with me. We went to the electronics and looked at video games. Then we went to the kid's books.

I saw right before me the book that I always used to read when I would go over to my Grandma's house. She lived right across the road from me growing up. That house now rests right across the creek from us. It seems like an empty shell of what it used to be when she used to inhabit the earth. I have a lot of fond memories from being there with her, one of which is Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel. Mike is a steam shovel that has become outdated by all of the new fancy equipment. Although he is outdated he creates a great basement for a city hall in a country town much faster than even the new equipment could because he works better when people encourage him. However, in the midst of all his hard work and getting caught up in the job, he forgot to create a way out. The town, Mike's owner, and Mike work with the situation they have been dealt and turn Mike into the furnace for the new city hall. Mike's use might have changed, but he was still useful. As a result, he finds happiness. Anyway, that wasn't the great experience. That was just a fond memory.

The Little HouseThen I saw another book written by Virginia Lee Burton. I picked it up. It was a book called The Little House. This book was about a magnificently built house that a man inteneded for generations of his children and grandchildren to live in. He built it in the beautiful countryside where the trees surrounded it and the sun and stars shown on it daily. Then the city creeped out, surrounded the house, and eventually overshadowed it. The house could only see the sun at noon and could never see the stars. It was a great book that reminded me how I abhor the city and love the country. I love the sounds of nature rather than the buzzing backdrop of the city. I love the stars in the sky. I love the beautiful trees. I love the creek. I just love the country life. The country always puts me in a worshipful attitude towards God. This book brought me to that place. I had to buy it.

Then I noticed another book. The Three Questions, based on a story by Leo Tolstoy. It is the story of a boy named Nikolai who is seeking the answer to three questions: "When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?"

He asks his friends, the heron, the monkey, and the dog. They give him answers that some people believe but are absolutely wrong. Then he goes to the old turtle and asks him. The turtle is hard at work, so the boy decides to help him. One thing leads to another and the boy eventually saves two pandas from a terrible storm. Then he is still frustrated that he doesn't know the answer to his questions. The old turtle gives him a lengthy monologue for a kid's book.

The image “http://a1204.g.akamai.net/7/1204/1401/03122212011/images.barnesandnoble.com/images/7210000/7214070.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
"Yesterday, if you had not stayed to help me dig my garden, you wouldn't have heard the panda's cries for help in the storm. Therefore, the most important time was the time you spent digging the garden. The most important one at that moment was me, and the most important thing to do was to help me with my garden."

"Later, when you found the injured panda, the most important time was the time you spent mending her leg and saving her child. The most important ones were the panda and her baby. And the most important thing to do was to take care of them and make them safe."

"Remember then that there is only one important time, ant that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. For these, my dear boy, are the answers to what is most important in this world. This is why we are here."

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:7-8 NASB).

"If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:7-8 NASB).

"Whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. And the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us" ((1 John 3:22-24 NASB).

"But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him" (1 John 3:17-19 NASB).

Bob wrote this after my post the other day: "John would argue that the one who doesn't love, doesn't know God. Is this the real root of the problem? That somewhere in our intellectual persuit of God, we've missed knowing who God is, and what his love really means for us as a person and as a people? If I don't feel loved by God, how can I love myself (sinner that I am). If I cannot love myself then I certainly cannot love others."

Our relationship with God is based on our relationship with those who we encounter that need our love. After reading The Three Question I was struck in the aisle at Meijer that I am not right with God. I am not loving to those closest to me. And the verse from John pounded my head. If I am not loving to those closest to me who I see, then I am not loving God. So I repented. And I'm trying to work on being loving.

My lack of love mainly centers on my relationship with Lindsay. Not that I don't love her, but I have become increasingly short with her. I've become a "no"-sayer when she asks me to help out. I've become a failure as a loving husband. So last night in front of the kid books, I made a decision to change that. I can't change anyone besides myself, so I decided to start right there. Afterward, we went to Steak & Shake instead of Subway because she wanted to go there. That might be a little thing, but in the daily battles of marriage it seemed huge. Throughout the night I tried to do other nice things for her. It was very liberating. Instead of telling her that she would be done a lot quicker if she would just do something instead of fighting with me about it, I need to realize that I will be done a lot quicker if I just do it and that by loving her I am loving God. I can't remember exactly what now, but when we got home I failed and it caused a little fight. I was reminded about my new commitment. If I love God, then I need to treat my wife as if she is Him.

I need to treat everyone as if they were God. If all of us who claim we have a relationship with God did that, I think the world would be a different place. We are given opportunities to love God every day. Many times we don't recognize them as such. May we all be able to see God in the face of our co-workers, loved ones, regular acquaintances, random strangers, and children.

Watch out for the potholes.