We are back to the series “in which, yes, we are thankful for what our Heavenly future holds, but, let’s not forget all of the benefits … all of the blessings … we have, in our life right now, which, often, we take for granted …”
I think that many of the blessings we enjoy are things and activities which we do … so often … things we have to do, that they become a “chore;” that we just don’t realize how blessed we are, just to be able to do these “chores.” High on this list is a chore, a “have-to” activity, done weekly, or even more often:
The opportunity, the ability, to just go out and buy groceries. To have “Grocery Stores” available to us, with such a variety of products. We can just go in, choose what we want, and leave … without incident. This “without incident” is important. Think of the situation so much of the world is in, right now. Just the ability to “go out without incident” is a pretty rare thing in a lot of countries around the globe. How blessed we are in this country, and in many countries, just to be able to “go out” and shop … where we want, and when we want. What a blessing this is! What an opportunity so many don’t have.
There is an example I’d like to share, which really brought this thinking on. Several years ago, our Pastor told this story:
This, again, was several years ago, and it was during a time when, in Russia, there were massive food shortages. Remember? People were lined up … lined up for blocks … just to get bread, or other basic food necessities. It was a terrible time in Russia, and we saw all this on the nightly news.
Our Pastor, like so many Pastors, worked a “regular job.” This is one of the reasons we try to do all we can to honor Pastors. So many we’ve known, have held down full-time jobs, while serving as Full-Time Pastors. Our Pastor worked in a grocery store. He had worked in a grocery store pretty much all his life, and was a manager when he received the call to preach. So, when God called him to a small town, many miles away … in order to support his family while beginning this new Work … he worked at a local grocery store.
One day, a lady, from Russia, came into the store, accompanying the friends she was visiting, here in America. This grocery store was laid out like all grocery stores, set up so that the first department you had to walk through was the Produce Section. In a marketing course I once took, I learned there is a reason that all grocery stores are set up this way. Anyway … our Pastor was working the Produce Department on this particular day. This lady, visiting here in America, during the time of a national food shortage in her home country, walked through the entrance of the store, veered to the right (notice it is always to the right), and the first Section she saw, in this American grocery store, was the produce department. She passed out. She fainted. She really did. She was so overwhelmed by what she saw, she just “shut down.” Fainted. Passed out. Overwhelmed. She could not comprehend how so much food … how so many choices … were available … She could just reach out and pick out … whatever she wanted … Where were the crowds … the pushing and shoving … the mass hysteria …???
I wonder … how many people … in that grocery store at that exact moment … were complaining? How about the “line” at checkout? I would image … once this lady revived … she could have told us about what a “grocery/food line” really looked like.
I think of two things as I write this: Knowing the outlay of the store, I know that the Deli Department would be the next section she would have encountered. All that fresh bread … all that fresh food … all those choices … All those people at the Deli Counter looking like they had better things to do than stand in this line … Somehow, she must have made it through. The other thing I think of, is this: I’m not knocking this particular grocery store, as they do have a fine Produce Department … but, I think about the first time, down in Rhode Island, when I walked into a “Whole Foods” Market for the first time. I must have spent an hour just in the Produce Department! At least! It was like a world tour of produce. I think … had this lady … from Russia … walked into this Store … well, they would have had to send an ambulance, at least …
How blessed we are. Maybe it’s because of this lady’s story, but, I never complain about going to the grocery store. I go down every aisle, whether I need anything there, or not. By the way, in the South, when you go to the grocery store, you call it, “go get groceries” or “grocery shopping.” In the North, it’s always called, “Food Shopping.” And, those grocery carts? In the North, they are called “carriages.” Just thought I’d throw that in. Yes, we all complain about prices, I guess. And, how about this, in the middle of this story: How often have we complained about the selection? Not enough brands. Not enough choices. I wonder how this lady would respond to our complaints over the pains of grocery shopping in the United States?
I never complain about the price of gas, because I know how much “the rest of the world” has been paying for gas for several years now …
A word about shortages: I can remember only a few “shortages” in my time. I think about how that must sound to those growing up in the World War II years, for example. How the word “ration” was part of their daily existence. How blessed we are! Right now! My first job, in fact, my first 2 jobs, were in a grocery store. I remember during this time, and I was still in my early teens, there was a “sugar shortage.” Remember? The cost of a 5 lb. bag of sugar “went through the roof.” There was a huge outcry from the public. I remember clearly, as I worked, bagging groceries. People just quit buying sugar. They did. What happened? Suddenly … the price went down … and, there was, suddenly, plenty of sugar to go around. It seems like there was another shortage I can remember, but I can’t quite remember if this was around the same time. But, at one time, I remember a shortage of peanut butter. Yes, peanut butter. A shortage. I remember it. Seems like the same thing happened, as happened to bring the sugar shortage to an end.
That’s it, the shortages I can remember. Of course, this doesn’t include the gasoline shortage. This was something we all remember. I can, so clearly remember, the statement that “Gas will never go up to over 1.00!” Never! Ever! Remember the lines at the pump? The certain days when you couldn’t buy gas?
I also remember this statement from that period: “As soon as gas went up over 1.00, suddenly, there was plenty of it.”
While I am writing about this lady from Russia, there is something else I remember, from hearing about her visit here, and it directly relates to this series, and how we take for granted, what so many people around the world just don’t have. Remember that this lady was staying with friends here in the United States, during a time of great turmoil in her home country.
You know how, when you take a bath, you drain the water?
And, when you finish doing the dishes, you drain the water?
Well, this lady, as she helped with the dishes … she was appalled when, after the dishes were done … the water was drained … What? What? She didn’t understand, and, as she watched the dirty dish water empty out, she exclaimed, “What are you doing???” Why aren’t you saving that water???
In her home country … there was also a water shortage … how could we possibly just drain out water we could use again???
Should I even mention her reaction when she discovered that, after someone bathes … they drain the dirty bath water?
She, literally, could not fathom such a waste of precious water. Precious water, which could be used. Again, and again.
How blessed are we?
I just got home from the Grocery Store. Our small town has a local grocer, and there is a “big” grocery store in the adjoining town, about 5 miles away. I am thankful to have the choice to frequent both, and that I get a sales paper from each … which determines which one I visit that particular week. Yes, one “large-chain” grocery store closed here a few years ago, and we still have that “big-box” store, where I can buy bags of dirt, and lettuce … and, check out at the same register.
We are blessed. We don’t have what many have, the choices and all. But, I am thankful for the choices we do have. Plus, if I want to save another 10.00 on groceries … I have the choice to drive, “without incident,” to other grocery stores in the region. My choice. I love it when I hear someone brag about how much they saved by driving 70 miles, and spent half a day … to get those veggies on sale!!! Saved 5.00!
It seems so silly to complain about any shopping experience we have, given the freedoms we enjoy, which so many don’t. My major complaint about my “gettin’ groceries” today is those “fridge-packs” of soda. Made to fit right in on that bottom drawer. Perfect! They have been out for several years … and, I still haven’t opened one right, yet! Today, I decided to change my luck, and, finally, learn the secret to opening one. They open, I see from the examples, where you can get one out at a time. It didn’t work this time, either. There are perforations to make it easy, but, to tear open from the perforations … I haven’t got it right yet … today, I set the “fridge-pack” on its side (pretty smart, I thought), and, as I tore apart from the perforations … I took out the spice rack from the wall …
I remember attending a lecture a few years ago about primitive cultures. How that they were “hunters and gatherers.” And, how we are, still today, hunters and gatherers. We just hunt for the bargains, and then we go to a certain location (the grocery store) and gather.
We are so blessed, just to have the opportunity to hunt and gather, without incident, in our country.
As a bonus, getting back to the story of the Russian lady, let us thank God, every day, for running water, for running hot water, for electricity, and for so many other things we take for granted. Every day. We are so blessed.
Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
On the left-hand side, there’s a direct link
to the entire series so far