Saturday, January 28, 2012
No Such Thing as a Free Lunch . . .
Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill."
Miss Betty, a spry 80-year-old, is frugal with her money. When she buys something, she always gives the item, and her budget, careful thought. So, it is rare when she decides to treat herself to lunch at a restaurant.
It is two months since Miss Betty's surgery to correct a blockage in her intestines. She is feeling the best she has in weeks and decides a celebration is in order.
She gets in her car and heads to the local Cracker Barrel. It is a Thursday, and this means sweet potato souffle is a featured side dish. It's one of her favorite comfort foods.
One in which she can't wait to indulge.
As usual, the popular restaurant, known for its southern-style cuisine, is hopping with diners. But, because she is by herself, Miss Betty is quickly escorted to a two-seat table by a window.
The efficient, pleasant waitress attends to her within seconds of her arrival. Miss Betty gives her order promptly and settles in with a book to wait for her food.
Not ten minutes pass before her meal, with the coveted sweet potato souffle, is served. Miss Betty eats leisurely, relishing every bite. She purposely does not finish her lunch. Why? The waitress has temptingly mentioned that blackberry cobbler is the special dessert of the day.
Yum! She just has to try it!
With her lunch remains boxed up and ready to go home with her, Miss Betty digs into the delectable cobbler. No disappointment here!
The waitress is passing by. Miss Betty asks for her check.
The woman turns and smiles warmly.
"Ma'am, it's already been taken care of."
Miss Betty's fork clatters to her plate. She looks around the restaurant frantically, searching for a familiar face.
"She's already left," the waitress tells her. "Took care of the tip, too. Enjoy your afternoon, ma'am."
Dumbfounded, Miss Betty gathers up her purse, book, and leftovers and heads for the cashier's desk.
She approaches the young lady behind the counter.
"Excuse me," she says, "but, my waitress just told me my bill was paid for. Do you know who it was? Did they say why?"
"She didn't identify herself," the cashier replies, "but, she did tell me why she wanted to cover your check. She said you reminded her of her mother who passed away last year."
Miss Betty's eyes fill with tears.
"Oh, what a kind, caring person she must be! I so wish I could thank her."
"I'm sure watching you enjoy your meal and remembering her mother is all the thanks she needs."
In today's scripture, the crowds follow Jesus not because of who He is, but because he gives them a "free lunch". Did any of them ever think to say, "Thank you"? Was it thank you enough for our Lord to watch them enjoying the meal His mighty hands had blessed and broken and shared? To whom have you offered a free lunch lately?
Will you pray with me?
We thank you, Father, that Your beloved Son, Jesus, paid the ultimate price to save us from our sins. By His Word, we are fed; by His love, we are healed. As we go through life, may we never miss an opportunity to show His grace to others through generosity and kindness. Amen.
Psalms 35 or 138, 139:1-17 (18-23)