Last week I was buzzing through my local Piggly Wiggly; it’s one of those stores that’s kind of old and worn out, but small enough that everything is easy to find and fast to check out of. I was chugging through the aisles, my head full of ideas for my new business, grabbing my groceries, moving quickly but feeling mellow.
As I checked out, I made some small talk with the cashier, saying I don’t remember what. As I picked up my shopping bag and headed for the exit, I heard a voice say “Ma’am?” from the customer service desk. Not sure I was being addressed, I looked up and saw a PW worker looking at me. I smiled at her, to indicate I was ready to listen, and she said, “Thanks for smiling.” I was surprised, laughed a little, stammered ‘thank you.’ She continued, “Not a lot of people smile anymore. It’s really good to see someone smile.” I thanked her again, a bit more graciously and continued walking to the parking lot.
It’s surprising to me that this was noticed and commented on, but perhaps it shouldn’t be. I live in a former manufacturing town. The car companies went bankrupt or moved their plants elsewhere and the jobs went with them. This city has never recovered. Life is hard for many people here. Many are in survival mode. Many have never recovered–and I can relate.
Why was I smiling? Partly because I was excited because of my new business, but that was because I had hope. I feel more hopeful about my life than I have in a long time. That might not sound very spiritual, but was this woman simply responding to my smile? I think she spoke up because she saw beyond the smile to the hope that the smile sprang from. And that means she was responding to Christ in me, the hope of glory.
You never know when you are being a minister of the Gospel. But you minister more and more the more you can carry Christ’s presence with you into the world.