I don’t see “visions” the way some people see visions. Maybe it would be neat if I did… or maybe it would just be overwhelming and freaky! Despite this lack of supernatural perspective, sometimes God uses my ordinary imagination to provide tangible metaphors of the way He’s involved in my life. God offers truths of Himself in scripture (which is inerrant) that can be really hard to picture until we apply them imaginatively in our own lives (which, is not inerrant, so take it as fallible.) The following is where my imagination wondered one week when I was really struggling to experience God’s presence in my daily life:
I was attracted to working at Aldi because of the fast-paced, always-moving, efficient style of work that demands an understanding of the big picture and the ability to make decisions in the moment. It’s my style and it works for me.
And… some days it can be a little much. Or a lot much, some days.
Some days the store is crawling with customers, and empty boxes need pulled from the cooler and the meat deck needs restocked, and we’re out of strawberries on the sales floor, but have mounds in the back, and then the pizzas sell out and a costumer simply cannot find the taco seasoning. And my stomach is growling and my associate needs her lunch break and then the district manager shows up.
Days like these, I often go to work with my buddies Fear and Anxiety. We get along fairly well. It’s not like I have the greatest respect for them or that I want to be just like them, but they’re loyal and they’re imperfect. Like me. They also work a blue collar job and together we understand the heart-racing stress of a work day like this. The stress of putting out fires and cleaning up messes and holding things together with the last of our strength so that management is not too disappointed with us; so that, although it feel impossible to be “good enough,” we may at least avoid the label of “failure.”
And right when we’re working to tie a bale of cardboard together to be shipped out, a costumer stops at the back door and shares that a jar of pickles broke and there is glass and pickle juice everywhere in the main entry isle.
Anxiety and I lift our eyebrows at each other as I leave one unfinished task for another, rushing over to make up a mop bucket and grab a broom. I push the mop bucket past the empty boxes in the cooler, past the place where the strawberries should be, past the thinning meat deck, and the lost costumers, to the first isle.
I am stopped in my tracks.
Someone else beat me to it. The Big Boss. Not the big boss, like the district manager. The Big Boss like the Big Boss of the world, like the Creator of the universe.
Like the guy Anxiety and Fear and I all talk about while we’re stocking shelves and scrubbing floors. The Big Wig at the very top of the corporate ladder, honestly a nice guy as far as nice guys go, but nonetheless a busy fellow with plans to accomplish, projects to finish, and big demands to meet. I mean, He’s got the world in His hands and a lot of squalls to fix and spiritual awakenings to arrange.
He looks up at me and nods politely in acknowledgement, making eye contact somewhat dispassionately as He Himself sweeps up the glass and mops up the pickle juice. Not like the angry glare from management that says, “You failed to do your job, so now I am doing it. See how badly you failed that I, years beyond this manual labor and dressed in these sharp-looking dress shoes, had to step down to help you out? Do you regret your failure sincerely and will you do better next time?” But rather a simple acknowledgement of my presence, as if He was doing His job and expected nothing more or less of me, nor of Himself.
Every part of me knows that I should stop Him. That I should ask God to immediately drop the mop, and then hand Him at least two gallon bottles of liquid hand sanitizer with which to cleanse himself from the dirt of the floor and the mop and the blue-collar tools. That I should apologize and bow before Him, demonstrating the most sincere shame for having failed to do my job so that the Big Boss had to step in and cover for my failure.
But I can’t. I’m too shocked to see God working my job. So I stand there, like a dummy, Fear and Anxiety stone-still beside me as well.
And nonchalantly, God puts the mop away, sets the “Caution: Wet Floor” sign and moves on to stocking the meat deck. As if it was His job. As if He expected to keep Aldi running. As if He thought it was His work to handle the problems of my day, the fears and anxieties of my work, the issues of the world. As if He didn’t think I failed at all, but that He totally expected to take responsibility for running our store, and the rest of the world, for that matter. Not in a “I expect you to fail” manner, but in a “this is really my job, I just like your company and well-meaning efforts, so it brings me great pleasure to work alongside you.”
What is this??
Isn’t it my job to do the nitty-gritty? To mop the floors of my messes, to do my best to get a passing grade from management so that the higher-ups can do their jobs, so God can accomplish his yearly goals? Don’t I have to do my job, so He can do His?
Isn’t the CEO of the company supposed to have access to all the employee files, to be able to know their names if he bothered to check, but mostly he’s just concerned that they be doing their work as they should be, so everything can run smoothly?
Normally, when I face a hard day, I connect with Fear and Anxiety. They know me well. They talk to me directly. And sometimes they tell me rumors about the Big Boss. They tell me that He likes me in as much as I’m a part of His master plan. And we chat about Him. We don’t chat with Him. He may know my name if He were to check, but I don’t think my close friends Fear and Anxiety are even officially in the employee files. I would’ve never thought to introduce them to Him. He’s the Big Boss, folks! No one introduces their internal parts to the Big Boss!
I expected that maybe the Big Wig would stop by our store sometime to check on how it looks. And He’d probably find about a million things we should do differently, a thousand things that failed His expectations, a couple hundred “learning objectives” for us to work on before His next visit. He’d talk with the store manager in the office, and the store manager would relay the information to us; things to fix, things to change, things to do better.
Because that’s how management works. It’s what I’ve known. It’s what I feel I’ve always failed to measure up to.
But while I go about believing this, day to day, there He is–the Biggest Boss–, mopping up the mess I was supposed to take care of.
Who is this God?