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Joy Misplaced

Last week I began a new experience. This new venture comes out of necessity not want. I got a job with the promise of a paycheck after eight years of being pleasantly unemployed. I have not been sitting idle all these years. I have worked a lot, but working and being employed are different. One comes with simply the satisfaction of knowing you have done a job well that you chose to do, and in some cases know that you are called to do. The other comes with doing a job that you don't always know how to do well, that you don't necessarily want to do and that you pray you aren't called to do. I have cried and questioned and dreaded and contemplated and cried some more. The job is not anything I ever planned to be doing at this time in my life, but our lives are not anything that we can plan step by step, day by day, year by year. Life happens and things change, things such as starting work at a convenience store/truck stop/gas station at a very inconvenient time in life.

After only three long days of employment I have learned a lot. I have learned you can hold drivers licenses, credit cards, hundred dollar bills, but never an engagement ring for a fill up. I have learned no body knows out of eighteen possible choices what their pump number is. It is always that car way out yonder, over there, or behind the blue one that belongs to them. I have learned only smokers get breaks. I have learned men do not understand when the mens room door is blocked with a mop bucket and a wet floor sign and a woman is inside cleaning (that would be me) that they are supposed to stay out. I have learned that truck drivers drink a lot of coffee, and enjoy eating overpriced, overcooked, greasy chicken strips, corn dogs, pizza sticks, and egg rolls which by the way, I have the pleasure of overcooking. I have learned that beer must taste better when sold in super dooper economy sized wooden crates decorated with Christmas trees which must be lifted, and turned over several times to locate the bar code. I have learned beer buyers complain when their super dooper economy sized crates of beer are turned over because the beer inside gets shaken which obviously does something to detract from the quality and taste.

Yes, much can be learned in a small amount of time even when you have a fifty year old brain, which by the way the younger brains of this establishment of which I speak seem to think not. If this all sounds negative, cheer up, there is light at the end of the tunnel and at the end of this writing. On my third night of my agony, three hours from clock out time, a lady came in with her daughter and granddaughter.

The daughter, I would say about thirty, couldn't walk, or stand alone. The older lady and the young girl walked on either side of her, guiding her, almost carrying her. As they went by my counter. I smiled and spoke and began to pray. It was one of those moments when you are overcome with sadness and try to hide it behind a smile. The lady said, "That wheel chair is just too much trouble to get out every time we have to stop." The daughter was beautiful, but obviously had severe health problems. They came to my counter to pay for chips. While the older lady paid, the little girl was trying to hold up, the younger lady. She almost fell over. The older woman never raised her voice but kindly told the little girl to be careful and propped her daughter up by my counter till she had finished paying. All the time I was waiting on them God was prompting me to pray for them. I thought how could I do that here at this place where I was already in trouble for questioning some of the questionable practices I had been exposed to in my brief time of employment. I asked where they were from. They said they were from Memphis on their way to Florida to a wedding. I told them to be careful and said "God bless you." At that point I felt God speak to me clearly, "Nope that's not it." I went on to wait on the next customer and the next and the next. When I looked up the little girl came back in the door. She said her grandma had lost her cigarette case. She went around the store and in the restroom. I told her I would help her look, but we didn't find it. I followed her to the door and saw the lady I was supposed to pray for standing beside her car. I prayed some more and headed back to my post, but couldn't do it. I turned went out the door to the car and spoke to the lady. I asked her did she find her case. She did. I told her I felt I was supposed to pray for her daughter and asked her if she minded. She said no they needed all the prayers they could get. And at that point, right there on the parking lot of this convenience store/truck stop/gas station, amidst the eighteen unidentifiable gas pumps, I prayed for these three that God had placed in my path. I then happily returned to my register with a joy I knew wasn't gone, but which had been simply misplaced by me these last few days. I knew I could face the rest of the night and the next day and the next at this job I took out of necessity not want.

Sometimes we are called to things we don't think we are called to. A lot of times we are called to do things we pray that we aren't called to do. We can cry and complain and contemplate and dread and feel sorry for ourselves, completely misplace our joy, or we can make the best of things and know everything is for a season. Some are short seasons, some long seasons, but nothing lasts forever. God gives and takes away. God knows where He wants us, when He wants us, and why He wants us at certain places. God has a plan and purpose for everything. His plans are to prosper us, not harm us, and sometimes His plans are to prosper others through us when we are obedient to His voice.

So today if you feel you are a million miles from where you are supposed to be at this point in your life, check your surroundings carefully. You never know who will come in that God plans to prosper through you.

Always be obedient to the voice of God. Don't misplace your joy!

And one more thing, that will take you far in life and bring joy to others; check the number on your gas pump before you go into pay.

© 2008 by Judy Parker

This writing may be used in its entirety, with credits in tact, for non-profit ministering purposes.

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