A Grace Beyond Forgetfulness


Produce department

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor 12:9 NIV)

Growing old brings many different challenges. For me, one the biggest ones has been adapting to sleep apnoea, and especially to one of its consequences: forgetfulness. I've become forgetful all of the time, but it seems that the worst moments of forgetfulness seem to happen most frequently after a day at work.

Last Wednesday was a good example. My wife had a nasty cold, so I volunteered to go grocery shopping for her. All was well until I arrived in the grocery store parking lot. Here I had to return to my car twice: Once to retrieve the quarter necessary for liberating the grocery cart, and the second time, to get the grocery list that I had forgotten on the passenger's seat.

Once in the store, the first section was produce. I immediately became confused by the layout of this particular section. Logically it didn't make sense, for it seemed to me that the fruit and vegetables were intermingled. How could anyone find anything in this mess? I carefully reviewed my precious list several times as I zoomed about picking up this vegetable at that one. Then I faced my first major dilemma: They were out of fresh spinach! Now what was I supposed to do?

So I did the thing any logical husband would have done in this situation: I pulled out my cell phone and called my wife for help. But something happened while I was making that call: My grocery list literally evaporated into thin air. One moment I had it in my hand, the next it was gone. Did the local newspaper warn against a grocery list thief? Not that I could recall! In fact I never heard of such a thief in my life! But then it is also possible that I may have forgotten ...

After frantically searching the produce department several times for the said list, I came up empty-handed. Except for the anxious stares of fellow shoppers, that is, the ones who were frantically scurrying out of my way as if I were some sort of an alien from outer space! What was wrong with me picking up vegetables from the racks, looking under them, and then setting them back down? What was wrong with me searching through my numerous pockets? After all, I was only looking for my grocery list!

The rest of the shopping trip went from bad to worse. I shopped with my cell phone glued to my ear as my wife, who was suffering from laryngitis at the time, talked - or should I say whispered? - me through the store. It's amazing how many stares someone receives when they do things out of the ordinary. Haven't they ever seen a cell phone before?

As I went to the counter to pay for the items on my cart, I realized I had forgotten to bring the cloth bags that my wife always uses to bring home the groceries. So rather than pay 5 cents apiece for plastic shopping bags, I put all of the items back into the cart and hand-stashed each and every one in the car. While driving home, one item from the forgotten list did come to mind: Carrots! Well, maybe we could get by without them for a week. At least I had the spinach!

I guess all of the frustration was worthwhile for when I got home my wife gave me a big hug and thanked me for going the second mile. Maybe I should lose the grocery list more often!

There was a time when I pleaded with my Heavenly Father to removing this condition, but now I relish in it. You see, my condition has taught me to stop relying on myself and to start relying on God in all things. At times I still err dangerously towards self-reliance, but by God's grace I am reminded that leaving all things in His hands has a far better outcome than when I am in charge. I sure had some good chuckles about my shopping experience that brought me closer to those who matter in my life. This is why I gladly join the apostle Paul when he wrote the following:

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:7-10 NIV)

"But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." (2 Cor 1:9 NIV)

Are you facing an embarrassing condition like forgetfulness? Smile and embrace it with open arms. Only then will you experience true grace.

Oh no! Where did I put my wife's passport!

Rob Chaffart

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