A Booth Shared

Table Talk

My friend Jordan and I had decided to grab some pizza at a local place around town. I was attending college for my undergrad and she was working at the school as a photographer. The pizza was OK but the conversations were always much better.

One particular day was very different than the others. As we looked over our menus our waitress came over to introduce herself. She was a young girl, probably in her early 20’s and something seemed off. I tend to be pretty perceptive in this area (to the annoyance of some) and I could see something was going on. The waitress was trying to hold it back but her eyes were a red and worn and it looked like at any moment she could burst in to a flood of tears and loud audible wailing. I saw it and I know Jordan did too.

A Booth Shared

The waitress gave her name politely with a tired smile and asked if she could grab us some drinks. We ordered but I could tell Jordan could not shake what was going on. Lifting her head from the menu, she cocked her head slightly and asked, “Hey, is everything OK? You seem upset.”

The waitress tried to play it off, what she said I don’t remember, but Jordan pursued her a bit further. Jordan assured her it was OK to talk and that she wanted to make sure she was doing alright. It was not long before the waitress, a stranger a mere minute ago, was now being motioned into the booth next to Jordan. From what I can remember, the waitress was having a relational issue with her boyfriend that they had not yet worked out. The conversation must have not lasted any more than 10 minutes before she thanked Jordan, there may have been a hug exchanged and she took our order.

Later, on our way out when we paid our bill, I saw Jordan write something. She flipped over her receipt and wrote, “I’m sorry you are still hurting. Call me if you ever need to talk” and wrote her number.

Sitting With…

To say my “awkward” meter had reach peaks of unknown highs may be an understatement. Most people walking by, including the wait staff, looked over inquisitively at our table wondering why the waitress was sobbing in our booth. As this girl was pouring out her heart and Jordan was engaged in caring for the girl, I was concerned about the people looking and how stinking hungry I was. Nice job, Greg.

Walk Like I Walk

This story happened over 8 years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. I have used that story in conversations, counseling, seminars, and preaching. There is one main reason why it has stuck with me for me all these years.

When the awkwardness and hunger subsided for just a minute, I remember looking at what was happening and thinking something to myself. As I watched Jordan care for a stranger like she would have any other close person in her life, I said to myself, “I feel like I am sitting with, Jesus”.

I firmly believe Jesus would have done the same thing Jordan did all while I peered over the menu I was holding in front of my face. It was what I call one of those clarifying moments, when all the other noise drowns out and the thing in front of you is almost happening in HD clarity and slow-mo.

I learned that a few things about me and Jesus that day.

Interrupted 

I learned I really don’t like to be interrupted. I really don’t. If I have a plan or a goal in mind (eat pizza, for example), for the most part, I really like to have minimal distraction and interruption and to just do it. The difference between Jesus and me is the interuptions were part of the goal. Interruptions weren’t deviations from the plan but the result of the mission. Like Jordan, Jesus would see a hurt young girl to care for and not a waitress there to serve us.

Interruptions weren't deviations from the plan but the result of the mission. Click to Tweet

Presence

I also learned Jesus offered something more than positive words, he offered His presence. Jesus while walking on Earth offered not just what He could do for people but He offered Himself to people. Later, Jesus would offer the Holy Spirit to take up residence in those who believe to be a permanent present presence in their lives. I remember Jordan never offered the waitress promises that she wasn’t sure would be true (“Everything is going to be OK”) nor did she give her platitudes that had no power (“Everything happens for a reason”), she offered herself. In the middle of the pizza place she gave herself over to the waitress to be a friend to a stranger. Jesus is always a friend to the stranger; He makes the lost found.

More Than Enough

If you really think about it, Jordan didn’t have to write her number on the receipt. I think everyone would agree that she had, “done enough” and had gone way over what was necessary. “Necessary?” I could picture here saying. People who have a deep care for people don’t live lives guided by protective barriers or imaginary fence lines. Like a soldier looking at the battlefield they see the wounded soldier and they say, “He needs our help” as bombs explode around them. Jesus broke relational boundaries, societal norms, and did it so that people would experience God. And He didn’t respond favorably to those who saw otherwise.

 

Greg Smith

Blogging about faith, life, church, and everything in between.

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