Walmart and Christmas
It’s hard to find ANYTHING at Walmart, much less God. But I assure you, He is there. The hysteria known as the Christmas shopping season is in full swing.  With only a few days left before the biggest holiday of the year, everyone is rushing out into the maze of traffic, over-full parking lots, harried shoppers and crying children.
Of course, there are plenty of sparkly lights, and Santa Clauses, and annoyingly repetitive versions of “Jingle Bell Rock” to assist people in their search for something/anything to make that someone/everyone happy.  Even as I am writing this, I have to admit. I haven’t gone shopping yet. The thought of it paralyzes me. I will need God with me.
A few years back for some reason we decided to move to a new house during the Christmas holiday break. Moving is a major nightmare at any time of year, but Christmas made it just a little more horrific.  We literally had movers lugging our belongings to the new house on the 20th. We were staggering through piles of boxes on the 21st.
My daughter (who lives with us) had surgery on the 22nd. She got back home on the 23rd, but since we had not shopped and Santa needed to bring stuff for my five-year-old granddaughter, we found ourselves racing out to  Walmart at midnight. Our Walmart is open 24/7, so we decided to miss the “rush” by going just after midnight of the 23rd.  We had imagined that in the wee hours of the day before Christmas, there would be only a few other losers like us picking through the bargain tables.
Let’s just say that apparently, no one else got that memo.  Because EVERYONE in our town was at Walmart.  It was a crazy scene of thousands of people with loaded wobbling carts barreling down aisles, and running into each other. Random mothers and fathers and grandparents were reaching over, under, around and past me, to grab the last Betsy Wets It Doll, or Thomas the Tank, or Elmo Spaceman. The single-mindedness of the harried people who were desperate to get the “very last one” of already picked over merchandise was amazing.  I think people even stole toys and Christmas lights out of our cart when we weren’t looking.
I don’t remember what we bought that night. I do remember that our carts were loaded and we spent hundreds of dollars on a lot of stuff.  It was such a horrifying experience that my mind has erased most of the details.
Happily, like the story about the Grinch, that year Christmas came just the same. Santa did arrive at our house and somehow had figured out exactly what an excited little granddaughter wanted.  And there were even welcome surprises for the rest of us as well.
It’s a good thing God was there at Walmart. But how is that possible? Christmas is so commercialized, most people only stop to consider the birth of Jesus when they notice the picture on the front of a Christmas card.
God is there because God is in you. Remember? As believers, we invite God into our heart. We invite Him to come dwell in us. And it’s not a part-time thing. He will never forsake us. He is there when we are rushed and annoyed. He is even there with us at Walmart. The trick is to REMEMBER THAT. We need to look for Him. We need to allow Him to be present with us.
So what might that look like – God at Walmart? I mean, if we relaxed long enough to see Him.  It might look like that mom that works multiple jobs, and cleaning houses on the weekends so she can get her child that Elmo. Or the single dad who needs to find something that will delight his little girl he hasn’t seen in a few weeks. It could be the cashier who has put in hours of overtime to help with her elderly parents.
God is at Walmart. He is working in all our lives, whether we notice it or not. And that is what makes Him the amazing, awesome, loving God that He is. He meets us where we are. He loves us. He died for us. Yes, Christmas has gotten commercial. The world is in turmoil. People are angry and frightened and tired and confused. But God is still here. And the truth of Christmas – the story of a God that loved us so much that he became a man to live and dwell with us is breathtaking. And even if people don’t know it, I know it. I know who He is. I know that He will never leave me. I know that He loves me. I know all these things and maybe with that knowledge, I can rest enough to be able to enjoy my shopping trip. I can be happy that I have loved ones to buy presents for. I can feel blessed that whatever amount of money I have, I can bless my family with it.
God is still in Christmas. Jesus hasn’t left. I can try to bless that cashier with a smile, and an acknowledgment of their hard work. I can learn patience as I wait in a line. I can actually talk to the person in front of me and ask who they are shopping for. Everyone has a story.
God is at Walmart if we are at Walmart. We are His hands and feet. We can be the kind word, the encouragement, the whispered prayer at a critical moment in someone’s life. If we know who Jesus is and carry that belief with us, then we are carrying Christmas with us. Christmas is about the love of God for his people. Whenever we reflect that love, we are reflecting Jesus.
So my upcoming shopping trip is more than an opportunity to buy presents for my family. It also will be my chance to bring Jesus into the experience. God is with me and He is also there waiting for me to discover Him among the busyness of life. I will find God at Walmart if I am there.
I don’t know about Costco, though.