Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Unexpected Gifts

Ever since my kids were around middle school age, we've had a special ritual. Once a month I take them individually out to lunch for some one-on-one time. Yes, they are home all day for homeschooling, so the "just being together" wasn't the point. Instead, the focus was conversation--what they had on their hearts, what they'd been thinking about, hopes for the future--that sort of stuff.

I remember one time when Leslie and I went to a Chinese buffet. She was around nine-years-old. I can't remember the conversation exactly, but we were talking about God, friends, the Bible, and miracles that God had done in our lives. We'd been sitting there a while after we'd finished eating and I was waiting to pay for the bill. I finally flagged the waiter down and asked about it.

"Oh, ma'am, you don't need to pay, your bill has been paid in full," he said.

I was puzzled. "But who paid it?" I asked.

The waiter pointed to a table near us, now empty. "The man from that table."

I can't say I remember much about that man. He was younger. He was alone. I'd briefly glanced at him and guessed he was a construction worker. He never drew attention to himself. He never told us of his gift. He simply paid our bill and left us to wonder about the kindness of a stranger.

I'd like to think that maybe something we said touched his heart that day. My focus was on blessing my daughter, and maybe he got blessed.

I was reminded of that unexpected gift this morning as I was reading Matthew 20:27-28, "And whoever desires to be first among you must be your slave--Just as the Son of man came not to be waited on but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many [the price paid to set them free] (Amplified).

Jesus' gift is far more precious than a free Chinese buffet, but sometimes I forget that. I forget to marvel at the gift. I forget to thank Him.

Today, it's my goal to thank Jesus throughout the day for His gift. It's also my goal to serve--someone, in some way, without them having a clue. It's something a kind carpenter taught me to do.

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