A lesson from the Produce Aisle

The actual receiptYesterday I ran into a friend at the grocery store. After the usual chit-chat, I shared something I’ve been pondering lately. I can’t quite get it out of my mind. In Deuteronomy (the second telling) Moses recounts the law to the Israelites who have just suffered through 40 years of desert living. Afterward he encourages them to obey God’s law, listing both the blessings of obedience and the curses heaped on the disobedient.

Now I can almost hear some argue. To be fair, this section of scripture can be viewed in two ways: It was specifically given to the Jews in the Old Testament. It has nothing to do with us; we don’t obey OT law. Or, for New Testament believers, we think of it this way: God blesses obedience. It is His character. If we obey, we can expect blessings. The concept is especially visible in John 14 and 15.

Regardless of your take, I was struck by this sentence (Deuteronomy 28:2):

“All these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God.”

Did you see that word? Overtake?

Lately I’ve become a bit of a runner. My husband calls my technique “dog trotting.” He’s right; I’m unbearably slow. My legs are short. I have the bulky musculature of a linebacker, not the long lean legs of a long-distance runner. I remember a vacation where every morning, I ran along the ocean on a tiny two-lane road. Without fail, within half a mile, this gazelle of a young man bounced past me, catching and overtaking me with the ease of a leopard overtaking a dead antelope.

Not good.

And I have this image in my head. No matter what direction I am headed. No matter how focused I am. No matter what my purpose or intent. If I make obedience my first course of action, God’s blessings will catch up with me and overtake me, just like that lean healthy young man did, every single morning.

Isn’t that a great picture? My friend enjoyed the encouragement and we wished one another well as we headed our separate ways. When I paid for my groceries, the checker taking care of me said, “Well, I think someone should take care of this. I’ve never seen it before.” I didn’t understand. “Look at this,” she said, handing me my receipt. “You got a 15% discount for being ‘crew.’”

I tried to have her correct the error. She explained, “I can’t do anything about it. I don’t even know how it happened. I can’t fix that.”

A 15% discount? I certainly don’t work at that store. I don’t deserve a discount.

I think I may have been overtaken. What do you think?



10 Responses to “A lesson from the Produce Aisle”

  1. Helen Brien Says:

    Yes, definitely: you were overtaken and there was nothing YOU could do about it! Writers as you make such creative connections. Merci.

  2. Nonie Says:

    Bette, I was (maybe) “overtaken” at the grocery store just yesterday for being over 55……I’ll take it any day.

    • Bette Nordberg Says:

      Noni, Maybe I should switch to your grocery store! I wouldn’t be surprised to know that God continues to bless your obedient life! It’s a joy to have people around us who demonstrate faithfulness every day in every interaction.

  3. Duane J. YOUNG Says:

    I refer to it as ‘grace – God doing for us what we are not able to do for ourselves”. Favor is a life full of grace (Luke 1:28). All He asks for in return is obedience (Isa 1:19). Sounds fair to me.
    Thanks for helping us see how real and practical He is in our lives.

  4. Duane J. YOUNG Says:

    Did you get our mailing address?

    • Bette Nordberg Says:

      Absolutely. I did. But I forgot to mail your card. Thanks for the reminder. I was scheduled to fly to SC today at 4 AM for an interview, and my flight was cancelled. Wow. What a way to mess with your sense of time and space! Pack, Plan, Get ready. Not much sleep. Whoops. Stay home. Hmmmmmm. God is sovereign. Yes?

  5. Miriam Says:

    Love it! Thank you, Bette. This was wonderful, and much-needed encouragement for today. Stay on target … Stay on target. 🙂 But really, so liberating to remember that our job is to stay close to Him. His job is everything else.

    • Bette Nordberg Says:

      I think what captures me about the word “overtake” is that it is so active. So vibrant. God doesn’t just bless us reluctantly, or absentmindedly, or even out of obligation (well, she did her part, now I must do mine). He pursues us with the intent to catch up and pass us with blessing. As a writer, words count. God certainly chose his words carefully. It means something, that he would care so much to make absolutely certain that we are not lost to his blessings!

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