A Diamond in the Discount Store

Some days my feet hit the ground with hope and levity joining a mind and heart fully awake. Other days, my heart and feet feel heavy as concrete from the moment I rise. Yesterday was one of the latter days.

I did what I always do when my heart and mind feel slumbering and numb, I sipped coffee while setting my heart in the presence of God through His Word. I prayed, I wrestled, I meditated on Psalm 25.

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame (Psalm 25:1-2). 

I don’t lift or carry my heavy-laden soul to my husband or a spa or a shopping mall, I carry my soul, in whatever condition I find it, to Him. Some days this is a light load, a gladsome task. Other days, this carrying feels like dragging a stubborn donkey or dead-lifting a slumbering toddler. Either way, He is the hope of my soul, no matter the circumstances within or without.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long (Psalm 25: 4-5). 

I am tempted to run to a thousand other places, to false and fleeting islands of relief. But His ways are the paths that drip with fatness and marrow, His path are laced with peace and purpose. And so I wait and fight to keep waiting, for better is one day in His house than a thousand elsewhere (Psalm 84:10). Some days I leave my wrestling session with a felt sense of resolution, but many days I leave simply with a God-enabled resolve to keep waiting. To wait as long as it takes (Psalm 42).

All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies (Psalm 25: 10). 

Yesterday felt very ordinary, even blasé. When I looked out upon the contours of the coming hours, I saw carpools and errands and cooking. But, the Lord prodded me to pray for eyes that were wide open for signs of His steadfast love and faithfulness right there in the path of an ordinary Monday. If all the ways of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, then I could expect Him to show up on the way of my Monday.

I prayed, half-heartedly, unsure how or when or where He might show up and went about my day.

While doing errands on auto-pilot, Phin and I ended up at the 99Cent store. We were between the generic brand toilet paper and the cheap greeting cards when God showed up, offering a diamond in the middle of the dirty discount store.


An adult man with special needs rose up from a metal folding chair at the end of the checkout line and came towards us. He proudly introduced himself as Eliot and gave us no option but to stop and have a conversation with him. His deformed hands reached out to shake first my hand, then my son’s tiny hand. He smiled the most radiant, life-giving smile I have seen in quite some time. We small talked for a few moments until he cut to the chase, asking in the most genuine, exuberant, life-spilling way, “Do you love God?”

I looked into his small but stunning eyes with tears pooling in my own, responding, “Yes, yes, I do, Eliot. I love him so very much.”

“Me, too,” Eliot resounded. “I love Him so much. He is so good. And I love kids, too.”

Realizing that we were running late to pick up the older boys to school, but not wanting to leave this sacred moment, I started to try to wrap up our encounter.

Eliot would have none of it. He needed to know if Phin knew and loved God. When I reassured him that he did, indeed, Eliot proceeded to ask about everyone in my family, person by person. When we finally hugged and said our goodbyes, I knew that this was God’s answer to the half-hearted prayer I had uttered a few hours prior.

As someone who literally gets paid to share the Gospel with college students, Eliot’s genuine joy in evangelism put me to shame. His couldn’t contain God’s bubbling love, it spewed out of his every pore.

Eliot’s humanity and hope convicted and comforted me. There among the aisles of generic paper products, God had arranged a sacred moment. I left wanting to be more like Eliot, my diamond in the discount store.

What had begun a heavy-hearted day quickly became a day of hope. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, indeed.



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