Rebekah and I spend many a morning sitting up in bed, a cup of coffee in our hands and waiting for the Lord to speak to us through His Word, directly, or through one another. At times we plumb deep subjects; at other times we remind one another about the chores that need to be done that day or who will visit us. We have a guest calendar, but over and above the names on our calendar, we have quite a few unexpected knocks on the door. We try not to schedule our days so tightly that Jesus is unable to interrupt our day through unexpected visitors or phone calls.
Each of these mornings with Rebekah is very special and very much like Christmas. At times ideas or suggestions will flutter into our hearts that seem to be coming out of “nowhere” and rearrange our day or priorities. On the particular morning that has given birth to this story, I saw myself going to our local supermarket. I saw myself standing in front of a row of checkout counters wondering which lane might be the quickest. In the past I have tried to determine which lane was the shortest or quickest to get through. The number of items in customers’ baskets and not necessarily the least number of people in line determined my selection. Occasionally I would ignore the length of the line because I was particularly fond of a certain checker. I have avoided the self-service checkout counters with a passion. They dehumanize me and strip me of my dignity as a person. There is no way we can have a relationship with a robot.
As I pictured myself pondering about my next trip to the supermarket, ready to get into the shortest and or quickest line, I was impressed with these other-worldly thoughts, “Peter, before getting in line at the supermarket the next time, do not choose the quickest line, ask Me which line you are to select. Up till now you have been time oriented. I want you to be task oriented. When my friend Lazarus was dying, I did not hurry to his side, but waited three days before I returned to Bethany. I never did anything without first asking my Father. I want you to follow in My footsteps. I always want you to ask Me what to do, when, and where to go.”
I thought it would be fun and pleasing to My Lord to use this new approach to getting checked out; but would I be able to remember and ask Him each time? Establishing a new pattern takes time and practice. I did not have to wait long. I had previously arranged to have coffee with my friend Olin. After my coffee dates at Wolf Tracks I normally cruise through the supermarket to see what bargains I can pick up or whom I might run in to. Before leaving the house that particular day, Rebekah asked me to surprise her with something - something that would lift her spirits.
After a very pleasant time with Olin at the “Wolf Tracks Book and Coffee Shop,” I walked over to the market and looked around, waiting to be inspired and reminded of something Rebekah might like. She had mentioned avocados the previous day; so I got one. Then I looked for carnations – the kind that have a beautiful fragrance. But the only kind available were the pretty ones that have no fragrance. Then my eyes fell on a beautiful display of roses – all kinds of colors and hues. I checked to see if they smelled like roses; and they did. I decided to add a dozen roses to my surprise. Since Rebekah is an artist, I try to select the just right colors. We have been married for 33 years. By now I have somewhat of an idea what Rebekah likes.
With these two items in hand, the avocado and the dozen roses, I proceeded to the check-out lanes. “Lord,” I queried, “Show me the lane of Your choice.” And in a gentle way He directed me to stand behind a lady with a basket full of groceries, holding the hand of a small girl. Her features and posture betrayed weariness. There was an aura of futility about her. Her clothes matched her countenance and stooped posture.
I stood in line for just a moment when she turned around and said, “You only have those two items; why don’t you go ahead of me.” After a brief unsuccessful argument about not being in any hurry, I accepted her offer. And then all of a sudden it happened. I saw myself pulling one of the long-stemmed roses out of the bouquet and offering it to her. She said, “You don’t need to do this.” I replied, “Yes I do, Jesus wants you to have this rose; He loves you.” She reluctantly received the gift and then said, “It has been a very long time since anyone gave me a rose.” Oh, how those words pierced my heart. I knew that indeed I had been sensitive and obedient to His prompting. Jesus is concerned about which line I am to stand in at the supermarket. And unless I ask Him, He won’t tell me.
When I came home and gave Rebekah her surprise, I had more than eleven roses and an avocado, I had a beautiful story. Later that day our friend Barbara came by to visit us. I told Barbara the story. Before she left we were prompted to give her one of the roses. She wept.
Over the past few weeks I have shared the story with several friends. Our friend Leo said, “Peter, you need to write a story about this.” Well, I already knew I had to do this; but when Leo told me that it was important, it was the impetus I needed to waste no more time to get this story down on paper. Like a beautiful bouquet of flowers, some stories lose their fragrance and beauty if we don’t write them down soon enough.
Each item in the still life picture included in this story speaks volumes to my heart. The ten roses speak for themselves. The embroidered doily reminds me of Mutti, the endearing word for mother in German. She embroidered the doily with a very crippled right hand, a hand that used to be able to dance on a Baby Grand Steinway piano. The shofar is a gift from our friend Sherry. I use it profusely when I am engaged in spiritual warfare. Rebekah is just now reading the book “The Sign” by Robert Van Kampen. It’s about Bible Prophecy concerning the end times. She enjoys recommending the book to friends. And then there is the silhouette depicting the women with the issue of blood touching the hem of Jesus’ garment. The story is recorded in chapter 8 of Luke’s Gospel. The other day a woman came to visit us who had diabetes. She had lost the feeling in her legs. When she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, the Holy Spirit washed over her. She wept and left with feelings in her legs.
Jesus wants to give you a bouquet of roses. This story is His bouquet