On the Toothpaste Aisle

Years ago during my freshman or sophomore year, I was working 3 part-time jobs while attending school full time. Don’t ask me how I did it because I could not have done it without the One who gives me strength- Jesus Christ. Though I didn’t mind working for what I wanted, there were days when it took more energy than usual to muster the motivation I needed to get through the long days. One of my part-time jobs at the time was at a popular retail store/pharmacy. Between the cashiering and stocking, my hands were full. It’s not like the store was fully staffed, so juggling was expected. It seems so long ago, but there is a particular encounter that I will never forget!

Dear Reader, as you know, this blog site is branded Looking for God #HEISEVERYWHERE, so allow me to share with you how I found God on the toothpaste aisle. So, there I was trying to appear cheerful and “serve wholeheartedly as if serving God, not Man” (Ephesians 6:7). Who knows how many times I fought through complaints in my mind and tried to wash myself with the Word? I don’t remember what specific thoughts were running through my mind, but I was more than likely on the verge of being weary in well-doing. In the midst of pushing through, I remember speaking to customers who were shopping down that aisle or passing by. The store traffic was slow that time of day, and few people were shopping for dental hygiene products. Periodically, I’d whisper a shy, “Hi” as I smiled and motioned a short wave with my free hand. Minutes passed, and I was all alone seemingly. It was just shelves, peg board, tiles, a product-filled tote and me. I can see the red, white, gold and blue toothpaste boxes as vividly as I can see the words I’m typing now. I can see my hand aligning the boxes end to end. Then I saw a glimpse of a tall man walking by the aisle’s end to my left. The passing was brief, but I still managed to quickly flash a smile. The smile was heart-felt on my part because I cared so much, but surely it could not fully hide any sadness behind my eyes. My grandmother used to tell her children and grandchildren as we gathered around and filled up on her wisdom, “Always be kind to strangers because you never know when you might be entertaining an angel unawares.” Oh, how I miss my grandma… This tall smiling stranger came back to the toothpaste aisle moving with purpose and giving me unbroken eye contact. He spoke revelation into my life and a word of encouragement and left as quickly as he came. His words had my full attention. I was transfixed by his awesome message. A little slow to process, it took two and a half moments for my thoughts to go from, “Aw, he’s nice” as I continued stocking to “Wait! How did he know that!?” I had questions about what he said, and I needed answers! A surge of thrilling excitement filled me. Stepping into the main aisle, I looked for him. He wasn’t there. Side aisles became the target for my search as a power walk turned into an eager jog. “Where’d he go??” Desperately, I looked and even asked a coworker or two if they’d seen the man I described. No one had seen anyone who fit that description. It was like he was never there. Once I realized that there was no way he could have gotten in and out of the store without being seen, I knew. I had entertained an angel.

I cannot tell you word for word what he said to me all those years ago, but it was so needed, so timely and so heaven-sent! It gave me a second wind, encouraged me to go on, uplifted my downcast head and let me know that God sees me, God hears me, God is covering me and God is with me! I, Ebony Elice Gray, testify that God’s presence has always been with me even when I paid no attention to the signs! Just look for God, and you will see that #HEISEVERYWHERE…even on the toothpaste aisle.