One of my son’s favorite shopping activities is singing the Imperial March from Star Wars while stomping down the aisles.
Dum Dum da-dum da-da-Dum Dum da-Dum
For a three-year-old, my son is remarkably good at singing this while swinging an imaginary light saber. Even the frozen food employee is impressed. He always stops to chat with us about the latest Star Wars movie.
This is, of course, not my son’s only grocery shopping habit.
There is also pretending to fly like an airplane and also making superhero fighting noises while acting out an epic battle.
We have rules, of course.
Star Wars singing and marching is okay.
So is superhero pretend and airplane flying .
Crawling on the nasty floor like a puppy dog, however, is not acceptable.
Also on the Not Allowed List: Walking directly in front of the cart and stopping every two inches or so….touching everything we see….putting things in the cart without Mommy knowing….and running too far ahead or lagging too far behind outside of Mommy’s line of vision.
So, I do a lot of guiding in the store, holding his hand sometimes. Or guiding him with my hand on his back because he’s too engrossed in his superhero game to actually walk forward.
And almost 100% of the time you can hear me narrating our adventure: “Okay, now we need to go to the cereal aisle. We need to stop here for a minute and look. Alright, let’s get going, go all the way to the end of the aisle without stopping. Let’s go faster. Let’s slow down.”
These are my Mom-skills, my guidance techniques to keep us both on the same page in terms of purpose, direction, and timing.
We are imperfect.
Some days we ace this and I’m tempted to pat myself on the back as if I’ve got it all together and have finally (after four kids) figured this whole deal out.
But inevitably the next time we shop, we forget something, or we take forever, or I lose my temper, or there is a tantrum.
So, we go with grace.
I’m so thankful for such grace.
I’m thankful for something else, too, because I know what it’s like as a parent to lovingly guide and direct. I know what it’s like to be listened to and what it’s like to be ignored.
I know what it’s like to “know best….” and to understand the grand scheme of things: the meal plan, the budget, the true needs versus the cavernous wants.
Maybe these weekly shopping excursions are a little hint of God’s heart for us.
He knows the big plan: the layout of the store, the timing, the provision, the needs.
Sometimes He says, “no,” even when we really want to hear “yes.” Sometimes he hurries us past aisles where we want to linger. Sometimes he slows us down for the opportunity to consider.
Sometimes He lets us dance in the aisles and sing our hearts out right there in the middle of the bread because He’s so crazy about us and we bring him such joy.
But I can be so wayward.
I can try to rush ahead one day and drag my feet the next. I can try to sneak things into the cart and perhaps I even throw a tantrum every once in a while.
I’ve been reading in Exodus about Israel’s long and winding trek through the wilderness, and how God guided them every step of the way, providing for their needs with manna and quail even when they longed for the food in Egypt.
What would have happened if the Israelites had pushed on ahead of the cloud that God used to guide them by day? What if they guessed at God’s potential direction, balked at His delays, and set out on their own?
What if I do the same, trusting in my own wisdom and strength rather than in God’s?
We are all simply lost without Him.
So I’m trying to trust Him and trust His heart, even when there are diversions and delays, even when there are annoyances and “no’s” and restrictions.
In Exodus, God actually gives Israel a glimpse into His heart:
I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. Exodus 23:29-30.
Conquering the Promised Land wouldn’t be some quick and painless affair, which is probably what they wanted.
But God’s purpose was for their protection. His timing was for their good.
He promises us this, as well:
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you (Psalm 32:8 NLT).