I read a news story recently about a waitress who received an amazing surprise.
One of her regular customers left her some crazy big tip....
Crazy big like over $400 on a 6 dollar tab.
The patron said she did it because the waitress had always been.....
Just plain nice.
The waitress was completely floored and tried to not accept the money,
but the woman insisted.
Apparently the customer had been coming to this restaurant for years and this waitress had always taken special good care of her.
The waitress (like many people in the service industry) probably tried to be friendly to many people.
That's how the wait-staff makes a living, after all.
Tips for a job well done.
Apparently this waitress had gone above and beyond many times.
Did she do that for a tip?
I don't honestly know....but in my happy smiley bubble I would like to think not.
I'd like to think that she just enjoyed making people feel good...
That serving other people was just how she like to live her life.
Or maybe she did it solely for gratuities.
Either way....she did her job well and was recognized for it.
And that's a nice thing.
I know that I appreciate being appreciated.
I think most of us do.
And that "appreciation" can come in all kinds of forms:
...a thank-you note
...a special favor
...concretes delivered from Shake's
...all things that acknowledge that you have done something that the "receiver" feels grateful for.
There are so many things we do for other people because...
because we have to.
Maybe it's because it's our job...like the waitress.
Maybe it's because it's our obligation....like volunteering at school or church.
Maybe it's because it's for our family.
Maybe it's just things that happen...like holding the door open for someone with full arms.
Those are all things we do every day because it's just plain LIFE.
What I have on my mind are the other types of things.
The ones that inconvenience us....
Make us go beyond the boundaries of regular service...
Mess with our plans.
If someone asks you to watch their 4 kids for an afternoon...
or take them to the doctor/store/Austin, Texas....
or water their plants while they're out of town...
or teach them to bake a cake....
or anything else that requires a commitment of time and makes us switch our lives around in big or small ways.
Those kinds of things.
I have an aunt who, when her kids were little, belonged to a babysitting "co-op".
The purpose of this group was to provide childcare for each other's kids.
They had tickets...and would exchange them per kid per hour of child care so that no one would feel taken advantage of and everyone would have fair time of care vs. freedom.
(Neat idea, by the way. Wish I'd lived in her neighborhood!)
Occasionally, as a favor, one of the moms would let the kids stay an extra hour or so.
BUT...that had to be returned by the "free" mom later.
When a favor was done...a favor was expected in return.
How many times have a heard my own kids say to their siblings,
"Will you please please please let me use this amazingly-precious-object-that-I-never-cared-about-until-I-saw-you-playing-with-it??
I PROMISE I will pay you back and let you use my equally-as-junky-precious-thingy???????"
Favors require repayment.
The Bible even says it with:
"Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt."
Romans 4: 4
Work, or a "favor", leaves a debt that must be paid.
It's not done just to be nice....but with the anticipation that something will be given at some point in return.
It might not be fairly obvious "wages" such as a paycheck or next-night babysitting.
It might simply be knowing that you have someone indebted to you....and that if you need something you can call on them to provide it.
On the flip side....
One day not long after the tornado I was standing outside the remnants of my kitchen trying to decide if it was a smart idea to retrieve all my beloved cookbooks from the one remaining saggy baggy cupboard.
A police car (from somewhere in Kansas???) showed up and two officers walked through the drizzly rain to ask me what I was doing.
I explained my random dilemma...and without a second's pause the guys grabbed someone's giant plastic flower pot,
climbed over a tree and a grill,
went through a shattered window,
filled the pot with wet moldy cookbooks
and carried it to the back of my car.
In tears and shock I thanked them and thanked them.
And you know what they did?
They thanked me.
They said they had been hoping and looking for an opportunity to help someone....
And they were really grateful I had let them do it.
They they drove off on their shiny white horse back to Kansas.
These sweet men had been searching for an opportunity to serve.
They felt grateful that they had been able to help.
They didn't want any kind of repayment....
They were happy to be a blessing to me...
felt grateful and blessed.
They were appreciative for the opportunity.
They weren't looking for appreciation.
They weren't working for wages....but for grace.
Almost every day I ask God to show me how I can serve Him.
And almost every day oh-so-inconvenient needs show up around me.
My daughter's teacher asks me to make copies for her as I'm rushing to make a coffee date.
I'll do it
But am I just happy to be a blessing?
Or do I think that she will be appreciative to me and be nicer to my kiddo?
God ALWAYS give me chances to serve.
Opportunities to bless.
Instances where I can help one of His babies.
I don't have to go across the globe or move mountains....
There are openings all around me.
Do I look at them as favors?
Do I require wages?
Or will it be counted as grace?
You know what I've found?
When I get off my cushy little high horse and realize that God is giving me a chance to be of use to Him...
When I do the task with the pure joy that comes from truly serving...
I usually end up a heck of a lot more blessed than whomever I am "serving."
Bonus with purchase.
Favor vs Opportunity.
One entitles you to repayment...
The other is a two-way service.
I mean after all...
I'm pretty much of the opinion that God's given me everything I have....including time.
So how can I claim it as my own and only grudgingly parcel it out when it's advantageous to me?
I will try to see opportunities instead of inconveniences.
I will try to work for grace instead of debt.
I will enjoy and appreciate the joy that comes from serving.
But...I will not say no if someone sends me a wedding cake concrete.
I believe those are gifts from heaven, too.