Life is a lesson…a continual lesson. A journey, for sure. The following was a “heads-up” to always be alert, because even the most seemingly mundane happenings can be part of a bigger picture…
Our group was large. Bruce, myself, and a few others scouted out the empty picnic benches at the local BBQ joint. I had nothing in hand to save our seats, but we figured there would be plenty of room to sit with the group when we returned with our food.
The busy order-line slowly meandered to the front, and we made our way to the counter.
You know when you meet someone and there’s some kind of connection? You’re not quite sure what it is, but there’s something. Our server looked us right in the eyes with interest, like he knew us. Though he didn’t. Yet a curious connection existed.
He took our order and then asked, “Would you like any bread?”
We thought for a moment.
“I’ll take a couple of slices,” I said.
“How about 7 loaves?” he smiled, waving a whole loaf of Wonder.
OK, obviously, this guy was a jokester.
“6 1/2,” Bruce quipped back.
We all laughed, and then our server grabbed a stack of about 6 or 7 slices and held it up like he was offering us a prize at the fair. “How about this much?”
“Nah, I don’t want any bread,” Bruce grinned.
“Oh no, no. I just want a couple slices,” I chuckled.
He gave us an odd look.
Why would it be weird to him that we didn’t want a bunch of bread?
The strangeness continued.
We ordered drinks from the fountain machine, and he handed us the cups. He then told us, rather intently, about the water cups over by the fountain machine.
But we didn’t ask for any water. Oh well. Whatever.
We headed toward the outdoor tables with our meal. But every table we’d scouted out earlier was filled to the hilt with our group. There was no place to sit with them. How did all these people get their food and get out here before we did? Probably because we were goofin’ around with the bread-and-water-guy.
We found a table way over in “Siberia” away from everyone, feeling disconnected and disappointed.
We sat down, prayed over our food, and prepared to eat. I glanced up and saw someone else from our group, Larry (for honor, his name has been changed), who just arrived. I waved at him. He wandered over and stood by our table.
“Why aren’t you sitting with everybody?” he asked.
“No room, so we sat over here,” Bruce replied.
My mouth was full of brisket sandwich so I just nodded.
“Maybe we can see if this place has any chairs to pull up to one of the tables?” Larry suggested.
“No, it’s OK,” Bruce said. “We’ll stay here.”
Larry shrugged. We could tell that he really wanted to help us join the rest of the group.
But we soon realized that God had other ideas.
We invited Larry to join us. He hesitated, clearly not wanting to intrude in our space (Larry is kind of a timid guy). But he finally took a seat.
We chatted for a bit, and I noticed he never made a move to go get something to eat. And I started getting the sense that he couldn’t afford it. (Bruce told me later that he noticed the same thing and was going to give him the $20 in his wallet, but the Holy Spirit stopped him. Probably because of honor…God is not into embarrassing people).
I surveyed the brisket left over from my sandwich-making. “You’re more than welcome to these two pieces of brisket, Larry,” I said. “I can’t possibly eat all this.” Even as I said it, the “all this” sounded like a whole lot more than what was there. I again eyed the two measly pieces of meat on the wax sheet, almost embarrassed to offer him so little. I’d already chowed down on my sandwich and figured it would be kind of gross to offer him any of that.
He gratefully accepted the two pieces of brisket. So, I offered him the rest of my onions and pickles, and part of my buttered New Potatoes. I became aware that he was very sensitive of taking all my food, so I held back a couple pieces of potato.
Then Larry started to cough. He’d say a few words and then cough again. The coughing became more intense.
“I think I need some water,” he coughed.
Well, guess what? We knew right where that was!
“I’ll get you some,” I jumped up and headed for the fountain drink machine.
I handed Larry the water and a fork for his brisket.
God had Larry covered.
As we all talked it became clear that by divine intervention, we sat in “Siberia.” We weren’t supposed to sit anywhere but here.
My eyes drifted to Larry’s food piled on the wax sheet.
Whoa…what? I did a double-take.
I tried not to stare at the mound of meat. The mound. He had shredded the brisket with his fork, but there was no way those two puny pieces of meat could have made that pile. He had plenty to eat now!
We finished up lunch, prayed together about some struggles he was dealing with, and headed for “the streets” with the group to pray for people (that’s a story in itself and coming soon!)
On the drive home, Bruce and I discussed the events of the day, including the ‘meat mound.’
“I thought my eyes were playing tricks too when I saw that heap of meat!” he laughed. “And, as you made your brisket sandwich, I wished I’d have taken the bread that guy offered so I could make a sandwich too.”
Well, had we accepted the extra bread, there would have been plenty for everyone…with leftovers.
The next day when Bruce was reading his Bible, he was led to Mark 8:5…about the 7 loaves and two fish. Jesus took what was offered and multiplied it to provide what was needed. It also occurred to me later that I gave Larry two pieces of meat. I also pondered this: We had a “connection” with the counter-guy. Did the Lord prompt him to offer us that bread? Was that the reason he gave us a “funny” look when we refused it?
I’m sure whoever reads this will glean their own lesson. But for us? Our lesson was to graciously accept what someone wants to give. It may not necessarily be for our own need, but it could very well be for someone else God will put in our path who needs that “gift.”
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
Book: Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled—https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement/dp/1512774812