The other day I went to a local grocery store. I have not shopped there for months since I have been going to a different, smaller store. I was so surprised by the atmosphere. Everyone was wearing masks which I expected, but the atmosphere was filled with fear. It was so thick it was tangible.
No one was talking to anyone else and the constant droning of messages over the intercom reminded me of science fiction movies I have seen depicting the future. The faceless voice encouraged us to wear our masks and to keep a good distance from each other. We were told how much the store cared about us and that our safety was their main concern. There were other messages, but I found myself drowning them out.
I passed person after person with their heads down, avoiding eye contact. It felt like it was almost forbidden to speak. Halfway through the store I discovered that one-way aisles were in effect and I had been going the wrong way most of the store. I hadn’t even noticed I was so busy watching other shoppers.
Finally I stopped and looked around the whole store. I realized I hated the atmosphere. It was so oppressive. I thought of the Light of the World living within me and I decided it was time to change that atmosphere. As I passed the next person I spoke out cheerfully, “Good morning! How are you doing?” She jumped about a foot, gave me a quick sideways glance and hurried off.
Not to be daunted by that first reaction, I greeted the next person, “How are doing today?” I got another sideways glance but no jump. Those who know me know that I am not the type of person who goes through stores talking to people, but that morning I knew I was on a mission. Aisle after aisle I spoke and encouraged shopper after shopper. I talked to the employees who were stocking shelves. They always answered and some even asked me how I was doing. Probably part of their training to greet customers but I took it as a positive.
I walked all the way to the back of the store and then started going aisle by aisle toward the front. I greeted everyone I saw. And you know what! People began to speak back to me. Some even smiled. I could see the wrinkling of their eyes over the top of their masks. The atmosphere in that store changed!
So now I have made it my mission to do that wherever I go. We don’t have to be overcome by fear and oppression. We carry the Light of the World. His joy is our strength. We are atmosphere changers. Next time you are out there, give it a go. If we all start doing it, imagine how the atmosphere of our communities will change!
As you gather round your table, talk about atmospheres. What is the atmosphere of your home? Of your neighborhood? Of stores or restaurants where you shop or eat? Are those atmospheres heavy with fear? Do you sense doom and gloom?
Talk as a family about practical ways you can begin to change the atmospheres. The Church is the official voice of God in the earth and we have authority to bring God’s will to earth. (Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.) We say that every time we pray the Our Father, but have we truly thought about what that means?
How does God’s Kingdom come if not through those of us who know Him and walk with Him daily? Don’t let the enemy create the atmosphere he wants. Let’s let the joy of the Lord flow out of us, all around us, and change the atmosphere wherever we go!
Jesus, everywhere You went You brought the Kingdom of God into that place. You set the atmosphere. Where You found fear, You brought faith. Where there was doubt and unbelief, You brought truth. Where the religious leaders tried to bring confusion and legalism, You brought clarity and hope. You changed the atmosphere everywhere You went. Lord, we want to do that just as You did. Remind us that we are Your change agents. Through You we will overcome the darkness around us. Amen!