Yesterday was one of the scariest, most intimidating days of my life. I was entrusted with going to IKEA to buy some new furniture for the Covecrest office. I drove the van but a space ship may have been more fitting seeing as IKEA is a different planet. This was my first venture into the circus of awesome furniture set up in a maze like fashion. Be forewarned, there is no cheese at the end of this maze, just a 20 minute line. I spent about 15 minutes walking through living rooms, another 10 minutes in bedrooms, and 7 minutes in a section dedicated to picture frames. Yes, picture frames. The first store attendant I had first consulted tried his best but ended up confusing me even more. However, he did send me in the general direction of the cinnamon rolls, so all was not lost. I continued my journey through the living room forest and over the kitchen cabinet hills, then down the dining room river. Everyone was speaking a different language around me. People were talking and laughing and celebrating the fact that they had found what they were looking for. Aisle 10, bin who cares. I would look at a sign, all written in English, and not comprehend a word of it. I hadn’t gotten anything I was sent to get and I was losing patience when God sent an angel named Jim to my rescue. What I first thought was a halo proved to be a glowing box above his head with the letter ‘i’ on it. ‘I’ stands for ‘Information’, or in my case, ‘I DON’T KNOW WHERE I AM!” Jim reached in his pocket and pulled out a map of the store, drawing an X where I was standing and a circle around the section I needed to be in. I explained to him that I had been there for about an hour and a half and just wanted to get the stuff and go. He drew out a line for me to follow, including an elevator, three shortcuts, two tumblerolls, and a bunch of signs with numbers. At one point he said, “The signs are huge, so you can’t miss them.” I had to restrain myself. But anyway, I was sent on my way with a map, a clipboard, an anxious heart, and a goofy, hopeful, concerned smile.
To Jim’s credit, his directions were great. I followed them step for step and before I knew it I was standing face to face with the first item on my list. After sliding the 100 lbs. box off of the shelf and fitting it into my cart, I moved on to the next thing. Eventually, I had two carts full of stuff and maneuvered them through the rest of the store wiping out any shelf , sign, or small child that stood in the way. I had everything I needed and was off to the cash register. Ahh, another humbling experience. You have to scan the items yourself. I must have looked like a caveman trying to program his first wrist watch. After an attendant came over and helped me to ease the 30 grumbling customers behind me, I was off to the van. After it was loaded, I set the gps and was extremely relieved to be on my way home.
I started to think about how unprepared I was for this trip. I spent two hours looking around like I’d never been in a store before. I had to ask for directions, which I really hate doing. I had to eat a delicious cinnamon roll…okay I liked that part. The point is, if it wasn’t for the help I received through mustering up the courage to ask, I’d still be in the store now. So many times in my life, I face a problem which I think I can solve myself. As I continue to refuse any outside help, I get more and more lost. Soon, I can’t even see where I started. It’s scary and intimidating. The good news is that the Lord is with us! Even when we can’t see Him, He’s never left us for an instant. Sometimes the answers are right in front of us, but we need to ask! How simple! Lord, where are you calling me? Lord, which of these options draws me closest to your heart? Lord, what is Your will? These questions may not be answered immediately, but through prayer and our obedience, His plans will unfold. Sometimes we try to help ourselves and fix our own lives. God’s love and mercy is far greater than anything we could even think up. So why would I try to be the king of my own life when the King of Glory desires to hold me in His arms? Look at the prodigal son, who said, “I’ll go back to my father and be treated as one of his hired servants”. But the father did not take him back as a hired servant, he took him back as a beloved son! Good thing things didn’t go exactly how he planned! Praise God for His mercy in our lives, which is far greater than what we in our humanity could have thought up. The Lord calls us into a deeper understanding of His love and mercy through the Sacraments. Embrace these encounters with our Lord. Am I running around seeking peace and direction as much in my spiritual life as I did in IKEA? Do I seek that One True Voice among all the distracting voices of the world as much as I sought out the information booth? My prayer is that we are truly seeking Christ with all of our hearts, knowing that every second spent allowing Him to hold us up is better than a thousand years trying to hold ourselves up. God is good. And the new office is really pretty. Amen.