It was just an overheard conversation.
Funny, how a few words directed at someone else can change the tenor of the day. A thought, tucked away in a vacant corner of the brain and carried through the afternoon unnoticed, gives a different perspective which can’t really be explained.
The earlier parts of the day hadn’t worked out at all as I had planned.
A trip into the attic to correct a simple problem had turned into three trips into the attic. I had planned to be up there only during the coolest hours of the morning.
When I finally tumbled out at noon, drenched in sweat and nearly choking on the dust from the rock wool insulation, the mood was set for the rest of the day.
That’s the way it seems to go, isn’t it? I’m not saying it has to; it’s just what we expect after a morning filled with disappointment.
I was gloomily mowing in the hot afternoon sun when my labor was interrupted by a message from the Lovely Lady.
He says we should come over now if we want it.
She had found a cabinet she wanted that someone in a town thirty miles away was selling. Did I mention it’s the weekend for one of the biggest motorcycle gatherings in the country?
The busiest weekend of the year as far as traffic goes, and we were going to be on the highway.
Great! Just great!
I told you it would only get worse. You just watch! We’ll get behind a bunch of those bikers out cruising and will be stuck for miles. Miles!
We stopped at the ATM to get some cash for the purchase. The machine only gives cash in twenty dollar increments. We would have to stop and break the bill to have the amount of the asking price.
Frustrated and ready to do something desperate, I suggested we just buy a couple of Cokes. It was, I suppose, my way of making a statement of protest while demonstrating my problem-solving abilities.
I do like to solve problems.
Well? It’s in my nature. I am a man, you know. This fit perfectly. I could break my self-imposed no-sugar rule while getting the correct change into my pocket.
It was a rotten day already. Why not just wallow in it?
Someone had different plans. I would like to say it was to show me that sugar is good for me. That’s probably not it.
Inside the convenience store, I walked back to the cooler and picked out a couple of twenty-ounce bottles, carrying them back to the counter. The two ladies behind it were just talking. With each other.
I wasn’t included in the conversation. Except, I was.
I was intended to hear every word. I’m certain of it.
“We were listening to the news last weekend and they reported that the boy with autism was missing.”
I set my items on the counter and she scanned them without missing a beat.
“My little boy wanted to pray for him to be found, so we did—right then. That’ll be three dollars and sixty-three cents, please. The next morning we heard he had been found. My son was so excited! So excited!”
I pocketed my change and walked out the door, a different person than I had been when I walked in.
It took us almost two hours to go over, pick up the cabinet, and come back. And, just as I had predicted, we did get behind a group of touring bikers on the way back. They rode about forty-five miles per hour on the winding two-lane road all the way home.
What a great afternoon! No. What a perfect afternoon!
There might still be some who would credit the sugar-high from the Cokes. They’d be wrong.
The apostle who loved to write letters said it this way as he closed his missive to the good folk at Philippi: Whatever is great news and worth talking about, that’s what you need to keep in your mind. (Philippians 4:8)
He wasn’t talking about the power of positive thinking. He never said you could name it and claim it.
The reality is this world is an unhappy place. We wrestle with things we don’t understand.
When we dwell on those things, we are overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed with fear.
Beaten by pessimism.
Conquered by worry.
But, I’m sure of this one thing: The truth we know is bigger than the doubt we feel.
When we fill up the corners of our mind with the reminders of His love and power, His peace reigns.
Just in time, I stood at that counter to overhear, eavesdropping on a conversation I wasn’t part of.
I’m saving up those worthwhile stories, squirreling them away in the vacant corners of my memory.
It may be time to sweep out some other cluttered nooks and crevices to make room for more.
It has become so easy to collect darkness and gloom from almost every source we see. Our lives will be swept away in those currents if we allow them to take root.
Courage to walk on is born in the corners where excellence is stored.
Peace along the road is the product of true and honorable thoughts.
I do wish it had more to do with the sugar.
I’m fixing my mind.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
(Romans 12:2 ~ NLT ~ Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. All rights reserved.)
Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones.
(from The Silver Chair ~ C.S. Lewis ~ English novelist/theologian ~ 1898-1963)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.