The queues at the supermarkets had just begun, they were long and full of fear, markings on the pavement told us how far back to stand from one another; separation being the new safe.  Sad faces said the worst and even though it was a bright day there was an impending sense of doom in the air as we queued to buy our essentials.  I was there to shop for my own family and an older relative; not sure what to expect I went armed with antibacterial hand gel & contactless means of payment.

I entered the store and walked around trying to focus on the task at hand, but instead I absolutely subscribed to the fear around me.  My heart beat quickly, I avoided eye contact and forgot half of the things I was supposed to be buying.  I couldn’t face retracing my steps as I could sense judgement of others all around me, it felt like no one could do anything right by anyone, everyone was in the wrong.  People were wearing masks and gloves, but I hadn’t brought these things and I could feel myself retreating behind my scarf because to cover my face seemed to be socially correct in this new fearful world.  The tension and feeling of dread were all consuming.

I absolutely love it when Jesus breaks in somewhere so unremarkable it almost feels like He shouldn’t be there, for example, in the middle aisle of a standard supermarket in the North of Edinburgh which is where I was that afternoon. It is in these moments that His glory shines even more brightly to me as He places Himself against the backdrop of complete normality.  Encounters in such ordinary places have taught me that His true desire is to be with us, it doesn’t matter where we are, He will meet us there. At that moment, my unfocused eyes and fearful soul were in that middle aisle, so that’s where He was too.  And right there, He kindly questioned my situation and asked, ‘is this your faith?’

In that moment, my surroundings absolutely transformed.  

My heart lifted and I saw His caring, constant, and hugely generous provision in my life. I could choose almost anything I wanted to feed my family; the fruit and vegetables were brightly coloured and looked delicious.  If we wanted a treat, we could have one.  God had given me work – a profession – that meant I earned a living and had a contactless payment card, so I could take these wonderful items home without too much worry and live healthily, even with a little fun thrown in like baking something or making a new recipe.  I had everything and more, all thanks to my loving Father.  As I saw my new reality, I felt embarrassed that I had taken these things for granted and not fully realised the exceptional life I had been gifted as well as my reluctance to do this task in the first place.  I was so blessed to be healthy at this moment, not ill with a virus killing so many, and strong enough to support the people who need me. These were things I had, that so many were desperate for, and in that moment I was just truly and sincerely thankful – this was my Saviour’s hand on my life laid out for me to see in a clear and transparent moment.

I put my scarf back around my neck and if someone caught my eye I smiled.  I wish I could say this was reciprocated but it absolutely was not.  It didn’t matter; I was aware that Jesus was shining his light brightly in that place; only He will know where or on who that hope was meant to land,  I just pray that happened and whoever was meant to encounter Him that day did so.  This was my faith: bright, shining, victorious and completely committed.  Not scared and weak but affirmed and loved.  One simple question had reshaped my experience that day, but also my life through this pandemic.  I said I was sorry to Jesus, and answered that my faith was exactly as I describe and how grateful I was to him for showing me this truth.

I’ve kept this moment close over the past few weeks and other than the complete removal of my fear and much more consistent gratitude in my prayers I wasn’t sure I had found a full response to what I had learned. 

I work at home now and one great thing about that is that I can listen to whatever music I like throughout the day.  One playlist I have been particularly enjoying is the Apple Music Gospel playlist that changes each Friday.  I listen to it on shuffle and the music is unfamiliar to me as it mainly comes from American churches.  The songs are filled with bold testimony and purposeful joy; they have depth but it’s certain, it’s not pained or searching.  These qualities resonate with me at the moment.

I caught the line: “Lord, send the harvest and every time you bless, you can trust me, you can trust me to bless somebody else” and it clicked – that’s what Jesus was asking me to do; it was clear He’s given me so much, and continues to; through the ups and downs of these quiet but tense weeks – his Hand is on my life and he is blessing me constantly in the every day. And so the latter part of the lockdown has been shaped by this response; although limited in what I can do, small blessings mean so much to others and looking for opportunities to do so is my way of serving the Lord in constant thanks for all He has done.  

So if this story has touched you in any way, I encourage you, look around for something to thank God for, and then pass the blessing on: pray for someone, let someone know you are thinking of them, send a small gift or a message of hope.  Be open to Jesus shining through you in the sure and certain knowledge that He is planning where that blessing & hope should land.

Acknowledging ‘Bless Somebody Else (Dorothy’s Song); Kurt Carr (Apple Music, Christian & Gospel 2019)