That's where we met Janice, the check-out lady. I started to unload the weekly shop onto the conveyor belt, and my youngest delicately threw the items near him onto the belt in his own special helpful way. As usual with my shopping, the items didn't all fit on. I needed Janice to start scanning the items through. My first item was a reduced Star Wars Storm Trooper helmet, and I turned round to see Janice trying it on. She pointed out what a good deal it was. (Reduced from £9.00 to £2.50) She eventually started scanning the items, and I was able to load the rest of the shopping from the trolley. I wrongly had assumed that she would have started packing the items into the bags, but instead both sides of the til were now just filled with all of my food. I started bagging up my shopping. Janice was not the quickest of check-out ladies. She was in a very chilled mood. She had quite a bit to say about my reduced items and the things she liked. She chatted to my little one, and encouraged him to wear the Storm Trooper helmet, all the while smiling away.
I rubbed my forehead, as I looked at my snail like shopping crawling across the line as I asked for more carrier bags than the three I had been given. Then I had a thought, I had a choice to be patient with this lady or impatient. I had a choice to act in a godly way or not. I knew quite clearly that being impatient would not even get my shopping done any quicker, and that choosing the 'patience option' was what God was requiring of me, and He knew what was best for me, and best for Janice.
So I took a deep breath, smiled back and asked her how long she had worked there. Fifteen years! There were so many comments which I could have made, but instead I slowly packed the bags and continued chatting, eventually finding a way of letting her know that there was a church which met at the Racecourse. I asked her if she was the churchy type and this chilled, slow-paced lady, with no higher speed level said that she didn't have time to go to church. Ah Janice, you don't have time not to go to church! I thought about how patient God was being with this older lady who didn't have time to get to know Him. I thought again about how patient God is with me as I make choices to live according to His way or my own. I thought about how choosing to be patient with Janice, had made me have a much less stressful shopping trip as well as helping me see the bigger picture.
As I paid and left, I heard her say to the next customer that she was sorry to have kept them waiting. I smiled and thought I should probably go to Janice's checkout next time I shop, with Take That's 'Have a little patience' lyrics in my head as I spend time listening to her, knowing that God wants her to come to know Him.
"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3v8-9