We can be anywhere and witness God, even in a fast food restaurant. The question is: Are you observant enough to know it when you see it?
As Christians, we often go through life, wearing crosses or making some display of our faith to the public, but if someone asked you the question: How does the fact that Christ died on the cross affect you on a daily basis? How would you respond? 99% of people that profess to be Christians don’t know what Christ’s crucifixion provided us on a daily basis. I saw this on a TV show recently, a researcher trying to figure out the reason that attendance is down in churches nationwide, asked that question of hundreds of professed Christians. They had an overwhelming response of silence. (You know, when the editor of the TV story puts in the sound of crickets chirping in the darkness and the video does a close up on their blank expressions!) They know why they are Christians, because He died for us to receive eternal life in heaven. But they didn’t know how that gift affected them in their daily lives.
I thought on that for a while. It is not an easy question to answer right away. Your first thought is salvation, but we don’t witness it daily – or do we?
Last Saturday, my family was sitting in Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was early for the lunchtime, and the crowd hadn’t shown up yet. We were the only ones sitting in the restaurant, and there were 4 employees in the cooking area relatively bored. A man looking to be about 20 to 30 years old walked up to the counter. He was cleanly dressed in fairly fashionable clothes. He asked for a certain employee. They asked if they could say who was asking for this girl, and he said, “No one of importance, I just want to thank her.” This caught our attention, and we couldn’t help listening. We were sitting in the closest table to the counter. The girl came up to the counter, a co-worker stayed back for her protection, because they watch out for each other. The man said to the girl, “Do you remember me? I came in here early in the week and didn’t have the money to pay for my meal, and you paid it for me?” At first, the girl looked at him as though she was trying to figure out if she really remembered him. Then her face opened up like she couldn’t believe this man had come back to thank her. He then handed her an envelope and said again, “ I just want to thank you, I hope you enjoy this” and quickly walked out. He never spoke his name. The co-worker looked shocked too and quickly asked the girl what was in the envelope. She said with a smile on her face, “It’s a Caliche’s gift certificate”. Caliche’s is a local frozen custard shop. At that point, my family looked at each other at the table and thought, “Awww, how sweet is that”. It was sweet of the girl to pay for the man’s meal, and sweet of him to repay her in kindness. And by the look of this man, he was not homeless or destitute. How many people would have paid for his lunch in the same way they would help a needy person? We are often quick to help people who we think are worthy of our money or time based on our need to judge their situation and our need to feel good. But sometimes, you may not be helping someone who is physically hungry; maybe you are helping someone who is spiritually hungry.
There are at least four lessons here. One, be quick to do a good deed like the KFC employee did. Two, be purposeful in repaying kindness. Three, while passing on the good deed in a pay it forward motion is nice, and keeps the idea of “Good Karma” going, it is also important to thank the individual who was kind to you. Why? Because so often, good deeds are overlooked, unappreciated, and taken for granted, and people need to have their good habits reinforced, because if they don’t get that positive feedback, they quit doing those good things and become hard hearted. God doesn’t want us to become hard rocks, he wants to keep us tender hearted enough to not only know when to react positively, but also be able to witness when others do it. The fourth lesson is about the man who paid the girl back. He may have needed to be able to learn how to receive God’s blessings. He may have needed to have his faith restored with this girl’s act of kindness. It is obvious that no one works as a fry cook in a KFC if they are financially secure. So his way of paying her back was sweet because he could have handed her the money, but in her perspective that money was already gone. So he gave her a sweet treat that she could enjoy in a different location to where she worked.
It is this witness of small random acts of kindness that we need to see on a daily basis. This is what keeps our heart well in a spiritual way. Loving your neighbor is the key to salvation. An old friend, Fr. Peter Sanderson’s favorite sermon was his shortest. He said, “Little Children, love one another” and he was done. He knows it is the key to all things in faith. If we live in love, we will be walking with Jesus, and we will be on the right path every day of our lives. It is the key to our salvation.
I know there are lots of lonely people out there. I know that telling them Jesus loves them often falls on deaf ears. But the fact is, we don’t have to be in love, or feel love directly from another person to know what love is. We can witness love in many different ways. Witnessing love on any level, from a distance, or seeing an incident in which you yourself are not involved, is how we know God loves us. That “Aww” moment you feel when you see something really sweet is a reminder that God is near and loves us. Now, we just have to recognize it and not live with blinders on, look past the distractions and witness God’s love.
So, if someone asked me on Saturday afternoon, after I got to witness this incident, “How does the fact that Christ died on the cross affect you on a daily basis?” I could answer like this: He did it out of love for us, and because of His love for us, we can see love in others. If we can’t see that, life is hard, so hard, it is not worth living. Anyone who says they can live without love of someone or something is full of rocks!
Hebrews 6:10 God is not unjust: He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him, as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
Madeleine is a young woman, who at a very young age heard God calling her to mission. Over the years she has brought God’s love and hope to children who are fighting for their lives in hospitals receiving treatment for various childhood cancers but providing handmade pillows cases and port pillows. She continues to be an inspiration in the lives of youth and adults.