6.21.2012

Lessons in Grace

"...how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." -- Matthew 7:11b-12 {NIV}

Want to hear a story? I was reminded of that verse last Friday night as we sat at our favorite local Indian restaurant, enjoying cups of chai and a dish of chole bhatura . We decided to end the week, and start our anniversary week-end, by heading out for the evening. As we entered the restaurant, the owner smiled and directed us towards a table next to a family with two small, rather unruly, children. {Oh, great!}

We sat down and began to look over the menu, rolling our eyes at each other as we heard the parents attempts to corral their girls, and casting glances their way to watch the girls completely ignore their pleas. We were both happy to see their check arrive, and the thought crossed my mind that we could soon enjoy a peaceful meal. I tell you this, because you need to understand the attitudes that we started out with, in order to understand the complete 180-turn that God forced us to pull, just minutes later.

I soon became aware that there was a "disturbance in the force" of our neighboring table. As we were ordering our meal, the father got up from the table and headed out to the car, while the mother attempted to keep her children seated. Within seconds of his departure, the realization popped into my head, "They've forgotten their money - the bill has arrived, and they can't pay!" I said nothing to Peter, but an idea began to burrow through my thick skull. 

You can't be serious, Lord. Have you seen their parenting skills? 

Soon, the dad came back to the table, shaking his head and mouthing, "It's not there". The mother stood up, told him "I'll go look. Good luck keeping them at the table!" and headed out the door. Peter looked at me and said, "They've apparently left a wallet at home." I nodded as I stuffed papadum and chutney into my mouth, and tried to ignore the gut feeling that I was experiencing. You know, the one you get when you know what God is telling you to do, but you don't want to do it?

The mom returned, cell phone clutched in her hand, and headed straight for the owner at the bar. As we watched her talking animatedly, I looked at Peter and said, "Is it strange that I feel compelled to offer to pay for their meal?" It's moments like this next one that remind me of the presence of the Holy Spirit in all Believers, working in each of us to make us more sensitive to His leading. "No," Peter slowly responded, "I've been sitting here thinking the same thing.

Okay, Lord. We're listening. 

As she came back to the table and they were gathering up their children and leftover food, I stood, face flushed, and walked over. They looked up as I said, "Do you need some money? We'd be happy to pay for your bill." In Peter's words, the whole atmosphere changed. Suddenly, instead of being angry with each other and embarrassed, they were thanking us, and explaining how they had just been at Target and he had left his wallet at the checkout. They couldn't believe we would offer to help, and though appreciative,  they were headed to Target and would come back to pay. 

I offered once more (not sure how to explain that God told me to do it  - still working on my boldness in real life), and then sat back down as they passed us on their way out, thanking us again for the offer. After they left, we talked about how God had been working on both of us (unbeknownst to each other) to be more sensitive and respond to His leading. This was a great opportunity to practice that, and we hoped it had changed the tone of their night (even if I did fail to give God the credit - hey, I'm a work in progress!).

A few minutes later the father returned, wallet in hand, and went up front to pay their bill, stopping by our table on his way out to thank us again. As we were finishing our meal, the owner came over to our table with a huge grin on her face. "I have a surprise for you!" she said, "Do you want to know what it is now?" We glanced at each other, thinking perhaps she was going to give us dessert, but certainly never anticipating what she said next, "That table, they came back and paid!" Okay. Good. Sensing our confusion, she added, "No, they paid for YOU!"

They paid for us. Our bill was covered. Sound familiar? 

"He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. [...] You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Vary rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -- Romans 4:25, 5:6-8 {NIV}


{Source}


Have you ever experienced something like this?
Do you have a story of undeserved grace?

8 comments:

  1. Oh that's so beautiful Carrie!!!! Both your gesture and theirs! I know it's hard to imagine but one day when you have kids, it'll mean even more than it does now!

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    1. Thanks, Sophie. It was a great lesson for us.

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  2. Wow!! absolutely amazing. What a wonderful story.

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    1. Indeed it was - amazing. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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  3. What a great story. Beautifully and honestly told. = )

    Irish

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    1. The Lord is working on all of us, Irish. :-)

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  4. :)Thanks for sharing this and happy belated anniversary!

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There are more than 400,000 words in the English language. My only request of you is this: Use them wisely.

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