I had the most interesting experience at a local, family-owned restaurant. I hope I never forget what God taught me during that meal.
It was just another weekday lunch hour. My husband and I went to a local, well-established hometown spot. In all the many years we have visited that place, I have never had a bad experience or a bad meal there. Never! And this particular day was no different.
We ordered our meals, ate them in relaxed conversation, and got ready to head out the door. Then, at the last minute, I decided to go by the counter and get a refill on my tea, to take with me as I went back to work.
I handed my take-out cup to one of the ladies behind the counter, a different one than my friend who had waited on us and taken our order earlier. But, truth be told, I had noticed this girl before; there was just something about her.
She had a perpetual smile, a genuine one that went right along with her demeanor. I had watched her earlier and noticed how readily she helped those around her.
And even now, she was just so pleasant and eager to serve me. I could not help but notice. She was just different. I smiled back at her as she took my cup and began to fill it up for me. Then, it happened.
I heard His voice (that still, small voice we all recognize instantly) speak ever-so-sweetly to me, “Tell her that you see ME in her.”
Now, if you are anything like me, you have learned through the years that there is absolutely no sense in arguing. He is always right and always perfectly timed. He knows full well what He is doing and what He is asking you to do, no matter how embarrassing or scary it is.
And if you have not learned that truth yet, you will. We all do! I learned the hard way through sinful disobedience. To be honest, I only learned after repetitious lessons that required repentance and sometimes even going back to someone for an apology and a redo. So, yes, we all learn about missing the mark and missing the moment when we fail to listen to and obey His precious voice.
But let me get back to my story. At the local restaurant, I heard His instructions, so I started praying. I quickly asked God to help the waitress receive His message well and to help me deliver it graciously, without a lot of fanfare and undue notice.
So, as she handed me my full glass of tea, the woman smiled again and said, “Have a nice day!”
I leaned in, trying to get close enough to counter the loud hubbub of activity going on around us, and said, “I just have to tell you something.”
She smiled that infectious smile and waited for my words.
“I can see Jesus in you! You look just like Him!” I softly stated.
It was amazing. I have never ever seen a face light up like hers did at that moment. And it was definitely a relief to see her sweet reaction, especially when she lifted her hands and said, “Thank you, Jesus.”
I had uttered less than a dozen words to this woman, but it was obvious how much those words meant to her – and to me. We locked eyes and both grinned. Then, I left her to wait on other customers with the same heart of gladness I had experienced.
The entire episode left me wondering: Can other people see Jesus in me as clearly as I saw His light shining in this woman? Do I look as much like Jesus as she does?
I have worked as a waitress before, and it is tough, tiring work. Customers are often hard to please and unappreciative to the people who serve them. Sometimes, as a waitress, my customers were demeaning and haughty as well.
And many servers claim that the Sunday, Christian crowd is the hardest to deal with and the least likely to tip well. So, I was even more impressed that this sweet, Christian waitress let her light shine brightly in a tough job that many people would not value or desire.
So, here’s my takeaway (or should I say - my takeout?) from that restaurant meal: If Jesus is living in me, people should be able to recognize Him, even if I never get the chance to speak a word.
As Ephesians 5: 8 says, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”
Whether we are serving up hamburgers, cleaning public bathrooms, teaching third graders, stocking shelves in a shoe store, or writing articles for a Christian magazine, we should still be doing it all as unto Christ (and by the way, I have done all of those things in my lifetime).
The Bible puts it another way in Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Let that thought sink in for a minute - Christ in us, the hope of glory. We may be the only hope of glory, the only ray of His Light that someone sees today.
We better shine brightly so they recognize Jesus!