Month: August 2015

Was her service extraordinary?

Matthew 10:42 (NASB): “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”


Was our waitperson at the popular, down-home barbecue restaurant the best server we’ve ever had, anywhere? I couldn’t swear to that. Our order wasn’t complicated. The restaurant wasn’t crowded. (I should hope not. It was past 8 o’clock on a weeknight.) And our party wasn’t large – just Jeff and me.

But the quick, friendly service and the simple but delicious meal that ended with a fried apple pie à la mode met an extraordinary need in us, and that somehow made the service we received feel especially valuable.

I doubt she saw anything unusual about waiting on us, about her own level of competence that evening, or about her apparent pattern of serving customers with a quiet, gentle spirit. So I wonder if our tip surprised her or made her think we were extra-nice people – and don’t be misled; it’s not as if we gave her $50 or anything close to that. It’s just that our tip was about 50%, not the customary 15-20%.

What prompted our desire to express extraordinary appreciation? It was the trying ordeal we had been through in the previous couple of hours. Our meal out, on the heels of some very difficult moments, seemed such a relief and even a reward. I’ve never ordered a hot dog with slaw at Golden Rule before, and maybe it wasn’t as amazing as what I remember having at The Varsity in Atlanta, but it tasted mighty good, and I would definitely order it again. We’ve had both peach and apple filling before in our fried pies with vanilla ice cream there, but this dessert tasted better than any previous, to me. I didn’t ask Jeff how his chopped pork sandwich was (because, when I thought about that, he was on the phone again, dealing with more of our pressing “stuff”). But, we seemed to be on the same wavelength about the tip. While he took care of personal business, I was reaching into my wallet for some extra cash to add on, and – out of character for us – I was the one who took a debit card and the check over to the register.

There’s a song called Little is Much When God is in It.* That title sums up my feelings about this experience. We don’t know how God may multiply the “ordinary” service we offer to another person. We may never know why or when our simple, consistent acts of kindness make an extraordinary impression at someone’s time of great need or vulnerability.


*by Kittie L. Suffield. Source



A good lesson from a bad guy

“A gentle answer turns anger away.” Proverbs 15:1


The late Don Knight is one of my favorite actors.

Whether in The Big Valley, Hawaii Five-0, The Apple Dumpling Gang, or The Virginian, between his heavy English accent (which managed to make all of his menacing lines more menacing), his thick blond hair, and his slim, sinewy build, he was a very convincing “bad guy.” In fact, I’m not sure I can name one role I’ve seen in which he clearly was a “good guy.”

I became even more fascinated by this actor in the early days of the Internet, when I read that he was an ordained minister, serving churches while also working as an actor.

On Saturday I was scrolling through our list of recorded episodes of The Virginian. The one titled “The Mustangers” (1968) listed Knight as a guest star. So, of course, I watched that one right away. Horse thief and maybe a killer – yes, this was another of his “bad guy” roles, for sure. But I choose to fantasize that it was the man of the cloth, and not the character Cal Hobson, coming through in some of his lines. He has words with a man whose goals don’t mesh with his. The exchange is an admirable example of a confrontation that isn’t violent and isn’t even an argument, when you get right down to it. (And herein I rest my case that Saddle Up Saturday on INSP TV can be a worthy lead-in to the Lord’s day.)

“Someday,” ‘Hobson’ warns, “I’m goin’ t’ take exception t’ your remarks.” (Hear the rolled R’s and the ah instead of ar in “remarks.” And recall the same voice saying on Hawaii Five-0, “I was hired by the defendant, Honoré Vashon.” Oh, goodness; I love this guy!) But, back to The Virginian. The other man replies, “Now, you do that. And while you’re thinkin’ about it, why don’t you ride out of here?”

There is no question that these two men don’t see eye to eye. There is no missing the warning and even the threat in their statements. And yet, both men are exercising restraint. They are saying, “I am tempted to fight you, but I’m not going to. It will be better for both of us if we avoid the next ‘logical’ step in our disagreement.” [These fellows should have ridden their horses on over to the set of The Big Valley and shared advice with Nick Barkley; he got into way too many fights because he didn’t exercise enough restraint!]

Later in the same episode of The Virginian, Don Knight’s character backs down from a fight with a different guy, even after being struck across the face. He gets up from the dusty ground and says, “Okay. All right. I know how you feel. You’ve got to strike out at somebody. But it doesn’t change anything, and you know it.” This TV western character’s actions personify today’s scripture selection, Proverbs 15:1, shown at the top of this page. Most of us have a really difficult time walking away, diffusing a volatile situation, “biting our tongues,” not insisting on having the last word, not “needing” the so-called satisfaction of being proved “right.”

A gentle answer does turn anger away. The one who overlooks an offense is wise.* If not, scripture wouldn’t say so. I’ve seen the truth of these verses most frequently in marriage, and when having to “referee” children’s spats. Is it marriage, or sibling interaction, or with an aging parent who seems unable to be reasoned with, or at work, or with an uncooperative neighbor, where you can walk in the way God has commanded, being the one to zip your lips and exit before a conflict turns unpleasant, ugly, or even violent? Notice how Knight’s lines quoted in my previous paragraph demonstrate going a step beyond self-control – honestly empathizing with and trying to be of help to the aggressor.
*Proverbs 12:16