Do you ever wonder who first came up with the idea for those tiny shopping carts kids like to push around the grocery store? Probably someone with a sense of humor, if I had to guess. Also perhaps someone who likes to watch others suffer.
Moms know what I’m talking about. You see the tiny shopping carts and you say to yourself, “What an adorably fun way to move through the crowded grocery store with my small child.” And it is fun, for a few seconds, but it can turn to utter chaos faster than a pyramid of glass jelly jars tumbles down avalanche-style as you watch in horror.
My kids love the tiny shopping carts. Love them. So most of my time in the grocery store is spent herding two kids and their mini shopping carts (which by the way, go a lot faster than you’d think).
The other day, we got to the store and my oldest was in a hurry to get to the potty. So both kids grabbed their tiny shopping carts and sprinted toward the restroom. I marveled at how focused they were for once. How determined. These were kids on a mission. They were heading somewhere important. Somewhere urgent.
And then – they veered off toward something else. I can’t even remember what caught their attention, but whatever it was became more important and without hesitation, they changed course. They do this a lot, especially while maneuvering the tiny shopping carts.
Something about this time was different, though. This time, I stopped chasing them and stood back to watch. This is really not a wise thing to do, because so many things can go wrong when you’re not actively herding the tiny shopping carts.
But I couldn’t help it. Because something was flooding up inside me, telling me to pay attention to this moment. And here’s what it was:
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 ESV
Unless you turn…
Here’s the truth: I tend to push my own grown-up version of a tiny shopping cart way too deliberately. I fill my tiny cart with all these things that seem so very important. Then I push my cart with intense focus, refusing to turn off course even the slightest bit. Because there’s no time to veer in a different direction when you have a very full tiny shopping cart and very important places to push it.
I imagine God must think I look a little silly, running around way too seriously pushing my ridiculous tiny shopping cart. Because I know that what He calls me to could never fit within the confines of my own expectations and agendas. My tiny shopping cart just isn’t big enough.
You know who never pushed a tiny shopping cart around? Jesus.
I mean, sure, it’s true that Jesus didn’t really have the option to push around a tiny shopping cart, but he wouldn’t have done it anyway.
Because Jesus was interruptible. He was constantly willing to turn in whatever direction the Father required. He wasn’t afraid of what might be waiting in that direction. He wasn’t annoyed when called to veer off course. He was delighted to do so, in loving and obedient service to the Father.
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. John 5:19-20 ESV
This year I’ve been working on being more intentional about loosening my grip on my tiny shopping cart each week in an effort to make room for a Sabbath day of rest. When I first started, I was convinced that this would be limiting. I thought it would mean I’d accomplish less, and I wasn’t excited about this. I thought it would mean dirty kitchen floors and undone laundry and chaos. (Full disclosure, today it actually does mean these things. But that’s besides the point!)
In obedience to what God called me to do, I began to rest and worship one day each week. I can’t say it has been perfect, but I can surely say this: what I thought would be limiting has actually been quite freeing. Little by little, the Lord is showing me there’s a lot more margin in my life than I realize. He’s showing me that I can choose to fill my tiny shopping cart and restlessly push it forward, or I can choose to loosen my grip and let Him turn my limitation into His abundant glory.
I confess there’ve been plenty of times in my life when I’ve flat-out refused to turn in the direction God has called me to. I can only imagine what I missed out on when I refused to turn my tiny shopping cart.
Of course, there’ve also been times when I have turned, but I can’t say I turned the way my children did that day in the store. When my children turned, they did so with joy and absolute fearlessness. They ran with their little heads flung back, squealing and giggling like crazy. They ran at full speed. They ran with excitement, craving adventure.
The next time God calls me to turn in a new direction, I long to turn the way my children did. Except, perhaps I’ll altogether abandon my tiny shopping cart. I was never really in control of it anyway.