One day in a big city, the managers of a supermarket looked at their profit-loss sheets and discovered that they were losing business to their local competitors. They knew they had to figure out some way to generate more interest in the store and increase sales.

They settled on the idea of holding a fun contest to draw people into the store. The contest would consist of three people competing to fill shopping carts with as many items as possible in a determined amount of time. The winner would be the person who loaded the greatest number of items into his basket and would take home the entire haul free of charge. The other two contestants would receive generous gift cards for future purchases at the store. Everyone loves a contest like that!

The response of the local community to this contest idea was overwhelming, and the managers had a difficult time picking just three contestants. They decided to make the choice by lottery and came up with three people who enthusiastically agreed to compete for the prize.

When the day of the contest arrived, the store was filled to capacity with locals who wanted to see the race. This idea was definitely good for business.

The general manager explained the rules to the three contestants as they lined up with their carts, ready to dash. At the opening bell, two of the three contestants ran with their carts into the aisles and went crazy grabbing everything in sight. The frenzy of their competition was a spectacle to behold!

As they rushed around, they knocked over a few displays, sending cans and boxes in every direction. They even crashed into each other once as they lunged for the same items. The onlookers roared with delight at the hilarious show.

The third contestant, however, did nothing of the sort. Instead, he strolled leisurely around the store picking out interesting items here and there and dropping them into his cart before moving on to the next aisle. Several times he dodged the other two contestants as they raced by him – but he seemed to be in no rush at all.

The onlookers saw this and began to ask each other: What in the world is he doing? Doesn’t he know this is a race! Does this guy want to lose?

When the final bell rang, the general manager of the store gathered the three contestants and tallied up their hauls to see who had the most. But before he announced the winner to the expectant crowd, he turned to the third contestant and remarked: “I’m sorry you lost, but I couldn’t help but notice that you didn’t even try! Why?”

The man replied: “It’s simple. My father owns this supermarket.”

Soul Work 

The frenzied activities of modern life often blur the central truths of our faith: God is in charge; God is the “owner” of all things; God’s Providence rules the world.

But these truths are not always evident to our eyes or our experience. We sometimes have to take them on sheer faith which looks beyond the very visible problems before us and believes anyway. They require us to trust in the invisible power of God’s love which sustains the world.

In a quiet moment today, renew your trust in God’s Providence (His goodness) over your life and the life of your family, particularly in areas where you may be experiencing problems.

Call to mind the many scripture passages that assure us that God will never abandon us; that God wants us to turn to Him in trust and faith; that God remains with us in everything.

If you need a few, try these: “I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1); “Even if a mother should forget her child, I will not forget you” (Isaiah 49:15); “Come to me all who labor and are weary” (Matthew 11:28); “I am with you always to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20), among many others.

Then ask for the inner peace and confidence of a child of God. Ask for the grace to live your life like that unflappable man in the supermarket who was fully aware that everything in the store was ultimately his – because his father owned the store.