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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

They Don’t Care How Much We Know Till They Know How Much We Care

Recently, our good friend, Bill, told us about a conversation he’d had with a server at a restaurant with whom he’d developed a friendship.  Upon discovering that Bill was a Christian, the server told him, “All of us waiters draw straws on Fridays to see which one of us ends up working on Sundays when, after church, many Christians come here to eat. We hate waiting on them. They have the worst attitudes and are lousy tippers.

Both my children worked as servers in various restaurants while going to college. In fact, my daughter still works two days a week at a high-end Japanese restaurant while going to graduate school. So, when I relayed the above story to her, she laughed and told me the following story which had happened to one of her friends at the restaurant:

After waiting on a grouchy and complaining church-going couple on a Sunday, instead of a tip, my daughter’s friend was left a Christian tract entitled, “Why the love of money is evil”. I guess this enlightened couple had no idea that anyone loving money wouldn’t necessarily become a waiter since servers usually work for minimum wage and the tips they receive are their main source of income. 

It’s Mother day 2010. After speaking at the Philadelphia Church in Seattle, some of the church leaders take me to a picturesque water front restaurant. Our server is a young beautiful Asian lady. She reminds me of Megan, my daughter.

As soon as she leaves to get our drink orders, I ask the table, “OK, what do think her nationality is?

That’s one of my hobbies. I take pride in the fact that I can often tell what foreign language people are speaking or what their nationality is.

But, not today.

We go around the table and each makes a guess, so by the time our server comes back, we’re ready for her. I’m quite wrong. It’s Grethe who’s gotten it right. The lady’s Filipino. We all laugh and have a lot of fun with it.

A while later, on her third trip to our table, Allan, one of the guys in our group, asks her the following, strange question, “Do you have a recurring dream?

“Yes, I did when I was a little girl,” says the server.

“What was it?
“I used to dream I’m in this dry and lonely place where everything around me is brown and dying.  I’d be walking by myself when all of the sadden a Transformer appeared in front of me. I would get so scared that I would wake myself up.

And then she leaves to attend to other patrons.

“Why did you ask the question,” looking at Allen, I ask. Of course, I have a feeling why he did it, but I have to be sure.

“I don’t know! Every time she walked up I was impressed to ask her the question. Now, let’s interpret her dream. Any ideas anyone?

Everyone has something to contribute.

Allen suggests what colors mean in dreams. Ed talks about her lonely feelings, and Grethe and Christa remind us of her fear. This isn’t my first time facing such an unusual encounter, but I’m still quite intrigued.

I don’t have a gift of dream interpretation, but after years of practicing Lectio Devina or “Meditative Prayer”, I’ve learned that if I bring my thoughts into submission to God and focus on him, I’m often directed as how to pray.  My focus is on the Transformer.

“A Transformer is a shape-shifter. It can reveal itself as one thing, when, in fact, it is something else. To me it symbolizes a lack of or a broken trust,” I commented.

We can’t wait for her to come back. By this point we’ve treated her with so much respect and light-hearted conversation that she’s willing to hear what we have to offer. No sooner she gets back to us, she asks, “So, did you figure out my dream?

Allen looks at me and says, “Go ahead, you tell her.

I tell her our conclusion: “There’s a deep lack of trust in your life due to something that happened to you when you were little. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was your parents’ divorce. Since then, you’ve been having a hard time taking things at face-value, fearing, no matter what it is, it might shift its shape.

By now our lovely server is in tears.

“Yes, my parents are divorced,” she says while sniffling and wiping tears off her face.

“Now, for the good news,” I continue.

“Today, God brought us here to let you know that even though people, even your parents, can and will fail you, He never will. He wants you to trust Him.

While crying harder, she manages to say, “My mother’s at church right now. She’s been asking me to go with her. I think I’m going to start doing that.”

We make sure to leave her a great tip.

A majority of people we interact with in our daily lives don’t care for our Message because they don’t know if we care for them.  It’s a foolish and dilapidated thought process that assumes that somehow giving a tract to someone as a means of witnessing exonerates all your other actions. After all, let’s not forget:

You are a letter from Christ...written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts..."                      II Corinthians 3:3

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