Gridlock at the Wholesale Warehouse

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths.  This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.
“‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you.  Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people.  For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the Lord.  Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death.  The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant.  It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’”

  • Exodus 31:12-17

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.  He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.  On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb a year old without defect, together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil—a food offering presented to the Lord, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine.  You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God.  This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.

  • Leviticus 23:9-14

First, a confession.  We only went to Sunday school yesterday.  I had to teach class.  We saw some of the service while preparing to teach class, as they are now using a closed-circuit TV option within the church’s computer monitors.

But I awoke on Sunday with every muscle group hurting and my wife barely awoke in time to get ready for Sunday school. She was not feeling well and had a bad night of trying to sleep.

And to top it off, our bathroom scale, that we keep in the kitchen, was broken.  I replaced batteries and nope, gone for good.  For most folks, that could wait a while, but with my wife on kidney dialysis, recording weight daily, at the same time of day, is important.  If you do not check your weight daily, the dialysis center might try to take off too much or too little, usually erring toward too little.  The patient balloons with water retention, but too much means the nurses have to work – too much can lead to low blood pressure or body cramps.  The low blood pressure could be life threatening.  Sometimes, my wife gets both at the same time.  They usually add saline, which adds salt into a system that cannot handle the salt, but then the dialysis filters would remove some of the salt before the patient leaves.

Okay, long explanation for playing hooky and going to the wholesale warehouse store to get bathroom scales.

Before COVID, there was always people at the wholesale warehouse store on Sunday morning.  It was never “empty” just far from full.  A lot of folks were in church and not at the store.  Some folks that drank too much the night before were still sleeping.  Some folks from a religion that preaches “guilt” would not be caught dead going shopping on Sunday morning, hiding at home instead.  The parking lot was always less than one quarter filled, usually a lot less.  We know, because we usually go to the early service, going there since the store is the least crowded then of any time all week, getting there about the time we arrived this fateful Sunday.

Now for the Scriptures, the passage from Exodus talks of keeping the Sabbath holy, even putting to death those that worked on the Sabbath.  For the wholesale warehouse store, that would leave the Pharmacy folks and the Hearing Center as the only employees left.  I don’t think they do eye exams on Sunday either.  I would be long gone as I have often worked on Sunday at steel mills around the world, setting up the classroom so that class can start at the proper time on Monday morning, and I have done a lot of travel on Saturday and Sunday for that same purpose.

I can remember the days of blue laws.  I remember those people that I grew up with that went out to lunch after church to avoid working.  Odd that they would contribute to someone else’s work on Sunday, but that was their thing.  Blue laws had pretty much ended in the South by the time I went into the military, although I wonder if you can buy alcohol in the South on Sunday even now.  But when we came back from Germany in 1980, I was stationed in Watertown, MA and the only things open on Sunday were the churches, the grocery store, and the pharmacy.  And the people at the grocery and pharmacy would tell you that you could not buy this or that because it was unnecessary.  Only necessary things on Sunday.  It got confusing.  One Sunday, we drove to Nashua, New Hampshire, just to shop for clothing for the boys.  Having misplaced a lot in the move from Germany, it was “necessary.”

The second passage above, the one from Leviticus talks of performing the offering of first fruits on the day after the Sabbath.  These days, most people in the church pews never give God a second thought except on Sunday, but God was designating worshipping Him on other days.

Frankly, if we have someone that we want to have a relationship with, we will think of them every day, and we will spend time with them as much as possible.  We would never restrict our contact to just one day each week.  And God wants a personal relationship with us.  God wants constant contact.  The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians to pray continually.

So, now back to the wholesale warehouse store.  Driving to the store, you go from four lanes to two lanes to a huge parking lot.  The parking lot was full.  Oddly, the handicap parking spaces, that are always taken, were half empty, okay one spot less than open were available.  I guess the handicap crowd was at church.  We had a choice of parking places while those without the tag had to walk a great distance from the fringes of the huge parking lot.

I got the bathroom scales while my wife got a few grocery items and one pharmacy item, over the counter since the pharmacy was closed.  We were in and out within fifteen minutes, even then my aching muscles felt like I had run a marathon.

We got to the car and started out of our aisle, but we had to stop for some crazy drivers on the wrong side of the lane.  I then noticed from my vantage point that hundreds of cars were all leaving the warehouse parking lot at the same time.  The local football team was not playing (an away game) for another four hours.  There was no rush from that aspect.  But without clear lanes in a triangular section of the parking lot, 5-6 wide cars narrowed to 2 cars before getting into a single lane.  It was total gridlock as traffic was trying to get into the parking lot at the same time, and nowhere to go with the lanes totally filled with out-going traffic.  People were coming out of the gasoline station on the wrong side of the lane since the lines to get out were backed up.  The odd thing was that as the traffic could not move in the parking lot, the two lane road quickly filled, then the four lane road quickly filled.  I could see it all as those roads climbed a large hill.  No one was moving, but then one car moved a little, giving room for another car to move.

Note: The photo above was taken in India in 1998.  Three vehicles wide in a single lane was commonplace, but they knew how to keep moving – most of the time.

We had purchased nothing that required refrigeration and we did not want to get a dent in the SUV, so we waited our turn.  Finally, nearly an hour later, we got to a traffic light, only maybe a quarter mile or less from where we started.  The right turn lane was open, a short third lane.  I jumped at the chance to take the long way home.  Within a half mile, we were the only vehicle on the road, typical Sunday driving, but actually a few others had followed.

My wife talked about it on the way home.  Was it another COVID outbreak scare?  Most people were buying toilet paper, paper towels, bottled water, and canned food – survival stuff.  Practically everyone in the store had filled their shopping carts to the point of needing someone else to guide them as the purchases were over their heads, blocking their view as they pushed the carts.

But then, rumors are floating that the government shutdown that could affect many people may be nothing compared to a total collapse of the economy.  People were buying hundreds of dollars of postage stamps because the rates were going up by three cents per stamp.  Postage stamps and survival supplies and fear of economic disaster.

It was panic, panic, panic.

And having chosen to go to the store instead of church, it was obvious that they were not turning their eyes to the One who could calm that panic.  We were the only ones in the store that were wearing “church clothes.”

The new bathroom scales seem to be within a pound of the old scales.  I suppose that I could read the instructions and switch the display to kilograms, as that is how her weight is recorded at the clinic.  My wife tells me what she weighs as she leaves the center three days a week and I multiply by 2.2 to get the pounds.

But my thoughts go back to the gridlock situation.  Will anyone heed the warning signs and turn to God or has that option been forever removed from our society’s thinking?  I am really thankful and surprised that violence had not broken out.  I heard few horns honking.  The panicked crowd had not lost their minds totally.

So, without losing their minds totally, is there hope of a revival and a return to God?

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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