I am shopping for groceries at the supermarket, heading towards payment, when I sense a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit: I need to join the small queue for a manpowered till, rather than breeze out via one of its automated cousins.

Unloading my shopping onto the conveyor belt, I can’t help but overhear snatches of the conversation taking place just ahead of me.

The cashier is a slim woman, in her late fifties or early sixties; her silver-streaked, dyed brown hair is scraped back into a ponytail. Her customer is an elderly man, with a slight stoop, who is loudly bemoaning the terrible state of the world, even as he squashes his shopping into some plastic bags that have definitely seen better days.

While he pays for his items, and shuffles off towards the door, I find myself sending up arrow prayers, as I realise this could be a gift.

The cashier’s name badge tells me she’s called Jeanette1, and it only takes a few seconds of chitchat to deduce that she’s a worrier. I make a passing remark about the topics the man in front has been discussing with her, and a conversation quickly opens up.

“Who do you turn to with your worries?” I ask, as I start to pack my groceries into carrier bags. I pause a brief moment, and then explain. “I’m only asking because I’m a Christian and I find that, when I’m worried, it can really help to pray.”

She seems perplexed. “I’m not really a religious person,” she says, “and it’s been ages since I gave prayer a go.”

“God cares about you, Jeanette, and he can handle your worries,” I tell her. “It’s not really about religion. It’s more about relationship. He just wants us to chat with him.”

“Really?” she says, and then she mentions a specific concern about something she’s heard in the news.

I take a deep breath, and send up another arrow prayer.

“Are you aware that some of the things in the news are things that Jesus warned us about, which are recorded in the Bible?” I say, lifting a bag full of groceries into my shopping trolley.

She looks up momentarily, holding aloft a tin of tomatoes, her interest piqued. “No”, she says, shaking her head.

Aware that the couple in the queue behind me are starting to listen to our conversation, I ask God for courage, under my breath, and continue.

“One day soon, Jesus will come back,” I tell her, as I lift another full bag into the trolley. “He told us, ahead of time, what to expect, so we can get ready.”

Even as the words come tumbling out, I’m wondering what on earth I’m doing. I’m sounding a lot more confident than I’m feeling.

But then she tells me how her non-religious parents regularly packed her and her sister off to Sunday School, throughout her childhood; how she vaguely remembers learning about Jesus’ return in an RE lesson at school; how she’s not thought about it for years.

“I know it sounds crazy,” I say, “but the promise of Jesus’ return is one of the things that gives me hope.”

She nods, and then. “Do you have a Bible at home?” I ask her, as she scans the last of my groceries through the till.

“Somewhere,” she says.

“God tells us, in the Bible, that we don’t need to be anxious about anything,” I say, as I rummage in my handbag to pull out my purse to pay. “He also gives us reasons to be hopeful.” She nods again. “You can pray at any time, anywhere, and God will hear you,” I add.  

I suggest she might want to read Matthew, as I punch my PIN into the card machine. “It reveals some of the signs that Jesus told us to look out for ahead of his return,” I tell her, “and it reassures us that we don’t need to worry, because God is in control.”

I notice the man, in the couple behind me in the queue, raising his eyebrows. I ignore him, and so does Jeanette.

“Maybe I’ll give it a go,” she says, with a smile. “Maybe I’ll dig out the Bible at home, and try praying.”

“I’ll pray for you, Jeanette,” I say – and I turn to push my trolley towards the door. I know I have planted a seed, and I pray God waters it.


As you reflect on this encounter, I’ve got three threads of thought for you to consider:

Firstly, how many of you can relate to Jeanette, and her tendency to worry about what’s going on in the news? If that’s you, who are you turning to with your worries? What could you do to pray more about the things that are causing you concern?

Secondly, when did you last consider the fact that, one day soon, Jesus will be coming back? How familiar are you with the Bible passages, in which he tells us the signs to look out for, ahead of his return? What difference does this make to your sense of hope, in light of what’s happening in the world at the moment?

Thirdly, if you are a Christian, how much are you heeding the Holy Spirit when he nudges you to go in a particular direction? What might you say and do to start a conversation, and chat about Jesus, if you encounter someone like Jeanette the next time you’re out and about?

As ever, constructive comments are welcome.

Photo from alexas_fotos via Pixabay.

  1. Name changed for privacy reasons. ↩︎


  1. And a fourth thing is raises for me: just like Jesus, you brought questions. A really really good opening question and some super follow up ones. I am actively focusing on improving my question asking.

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      Thanks Anna! This is a good point – about the ability to ask insightful questions in the moment. It’s something I tend to do, without really thinking about it, so perhaps I take it for granted. So it’s good you’ve added it as a point for reflection. Thank you!

Write A Comment