In times gone by we were preaching in a small town, like hundreds of small towns before. We were in revival at a small church filled with sweet people and having wonderful services. You might say it was a typical week for us in small town America doing what we love, meeting new people and preaching the Gospel.
In typical fashion, the Pastor took us to a local restaurant that we liked very much. We went there for lunch three days in a row. We had the same waitress each day. She was an 18 year old young lady that had plans to go to school and try to earn her way into a good career.
I guess you could say she was a typical small town young lady making her way through life the best she could. From the conversations, we could understand that she desired to do better in life than what she had witnessed so far.
Something was missing in the grand scheme of things. She seemed to know that, but she did not seem to know what the missing piece was. We could see clearly though, she was determined to do better.
She was serving two preachers and their families at lunch each day. We were glad to reach out to her and let her know the only source of true peace. We had a great conversation with her over the period of those three days and of course, we invited her to revival.
Unfortunately, she worked a split shift, meaning that she not only waited on us at lunch, but she went home for a few hours and then returned to work in the evening. It was impossible for her to attend revival, but she did seem interested.
The Pastor we were preaching for is very active in his community. I knew he would have other opportunities to interact with the young waitress and eventually reach her with the Gospel. Not to be condescending at all, but we know that Christ was the puzzle piece she was missing and we longed to help her realize that for herself.
Ten days after we left town, the young waitress, her mother and the young lady's friend were killed by a fourth person in what was described as a domestic violence incident. We were shocked and heartbroken when the Pastor informed us of the tragic events.
Wow! An 18 year old girl gone in the blink of an eye. The dreams and plans and visions of a young life, destroyed. All three ladies should have had many years ahead of them.
After the initial shock, our minds retraced our three days of interactions with the young waitress. Was there something else we could have said? Could we have helped her in some way? Should we have pressed her a bit more? Was there an opportunity that we missed?
We never know how close we are to death and dying. The young waitress was ten days from facing a horrible situation and ultimately the end of her life, God was loving on her, reaching for her and extending His grace to her. We could certainly feel that as we sat in that restaurant.
Who can say what the young lady did with the love and kindness that God showered on her? She may have left this world and went straight into the arms of God. That is our hope and prayer for every human being.
I am sure her death impacted a host of people very deeply. There are friends and family members that will always be affected by her life and her absence from their lives.
Yet, the young waitress affected us deeply after only three encounters. We did our very best to be kind to her, because we felt the kindness of God extending toward her. We will never have a chance to stop in and see her again, but we have the chance to reach out to someone on a regular basis. Most days we are given many other opportunities to be the hands of Christ to people that cross our paths in life.
We desire to love as Christ loves and to reach as Christ reaches. You know, friend, that takes time. It takes time we do not have to spare and energy we would like to use for something else, but people are worth it.
Let me say it again? People are worth every effort we can make to reach them and love them as God loves them. Oh, God, help us all!
Can you think of someone at the store, the gas station, the post office, at work or somewhere else that you could reach out to today?