I seem prone to developing devotional thoughts over the most mundane things in life- construction work while driving in my car, an extra order of fries at Jack in the Box. Or waiting in line. I thought I had already covered everything I could learn about waiting in line here, but clearly the Lord sees that as great place for a teachable moment.
Anyway, I was at Hobby Lobby-they are having 80% off there Christmas stuff and there were some things I "needed". I was kind of in a hurry and only there for the deals so I made quick decisions and got in line. Now, I like Hobby Lobby. Quite a lot, they are closed on Sundays, they sell cool stuff and they are pretty cheap, if they are having a sale (which is all the time).
But they are notorious for their ridiculous lines. I clearly wasn't the only one who knew about the great deal on Christmas stuff so they were longer -and slower- than usual. I had my choice between three lines, and after evaluating the speed of the cashiers and the amount of merchandise each customter had, I made my selection. I was standing patiently when the customer in front of me moved to another register. Well, that made me happy, because she had a TON of stuff. Also, because everyone was kind of crammed together and I am a "three feet of personal space" kind of American.
So, I was waiting my turn, my arms loaded with merchandise (no cart because I was in a hurry, remember?) eyeing the rack behind me. Well, when I turned my head a girl slipped in line in front of me. She was with her mother and sister and they had decided to divide to see who could get through line faster. I know this because they had all been in another line (that was closed but not clearly labeled) together a mere moment before. I am sure my mouth dropped open slightly. What was she thinking? Did she assume I was standing with my arms full of Christmas things daydreaming near the registers? Before I could even really mull it over I heard myself quietly, and of course politely, say,"I'm sorry, I was already in this line." She dipped her head and said, "Oh, I'm sorry, I saw you there...I just wasn't thinking." and she ducked quickly behind me. Satisfied, I took my rightful place and finished making my purchase.
Satisfied until I started thinking about it. She had taken my place. I had not done anything impolite by stating my claim. Until I started gloating a little that I had handled that so well. Wouldn't Miss Manners have been proud? I didn't make a scene and I righted a wrong, albeit one done to me. Then I started thinking about Someone else who said that he who is first shall be last. And that the true glory of what I claim to be is to do unto the least of these and turn my other cheek. To give my cloak away, to go the extra mile. None of that says anything about lines in Hobby Lobby...but it does say a lot about me. That is what I think is so much of what is wrong with Christians, my own self-righteous self included. We aren't looking to give up anything-we have "earned" it. Right? We have worked hard for "all we have" and we shouldn't just throw it away to whoever. Right? I didn't know that girl from Adam- maybe she was a regular line cutter. Maybe I had just taught her a valuable lesson. Right?
Why am I always so concerned about being right? That is not a great spiritual gift that I can find. The Fruit is: love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Which ones of those was I displaying? Ummm...that's right-none! Do I think allowing that girl to keep her place in "my" line would have taught her anything? Probably not, but what would it have taught me? Probably a lot. Like maybe to give away what I have, like maybe that patience and a kind deed will make me a better Christian. Maybe doing the last thing every one expects, by giving up what is "mine", letting someone else ahead will make me a little more like the One who traded places in line with me. And isn't that really the right thing to do?