The Checkout LaneWith the parking lot full, finding a space was almost impossible. Shopper after shopper filed in the store’s front door, list in hand, and most lacking the Christmas spirit.
The lines at the checkout lanes stretched halfway through the store. As angers were on the verge of erupting, loneliness carved a swath through the throng of shoppers, fighting for a place in each line.
“Why don’t they have more checkout lanes open?” complained one shopper.
“I don’t know. This is so depressing,” grumbled another nearby.
Each lane had its share of Grinches and lonely hearts, each moaning over all the congestion. In one lane, stood a mother with three small children in tow, all whining and wanting everything in sight.
In the next lane stood another mother with her three little ones, all in a joyous mood. Six year-old Olivia asked her mother, “Mommy, why is everyone so grumpy?”
Lowering her voice so others wouldn’t hear their conversation, Olivia’s mother whispered, “I’m not sure, dear. I think everyone is in a hurry, and they don’t know the meaning of Christmas.”
“Don’t they know it’s Jesus’ birthday?”
Trying to shush Olivia, she lowered her voice again, “I guess not. Some people just don’t know.”
“Well, why don’t we tell them?”
“I don’t think this is a very good time, dear.”
“Why not, Mommy? Didn’t you say it’s always time for Jesus?”
“Well, yes, I did, but…”
“Well, let’s tell them.”
Overhearing their conversation, those standing near this family began shifting their weight from one foot to another, uncomfortable as to what they might hear next.
The mother began to silently pray, “Oh, Lord, if You desire others to know it is Your birthday that they’re supposed to be celebrating, then please resolve this situation.”
Olivia bowed her head and thought for a moment. Then, a very soft, little voice began to sweetly sing…
“Away in the manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head;
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”
Silence fell on the checkout lanes. All that could be heard was the whirring of the cash registers. No one said a word.
Then, that sweet little voice began to sing again…
“Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.”
Just as a place was made for baby Jesus to be born so many years ago, a place was made for Him in the checkout lanes. Smiles erupted across the stone-cold faces of the Grinches. Peace swept across the store, carving a swath through the crowd of shoppers and banishing loneliness and the Grinch from the checkout lanes.
As you weave your way in and out of the stores this Christmas season, remember the Reason for the Season…it’s the celebration of Jesus’ birth! May the blessings of the manger find a place your heart.
Lord, we surely can be grinches ourselves from time to time. Help us to sense Your presence with us as we search for presents for others, and help us to be patient with those who don't know You. May we be a light in the darkness.