Seated immediately, we seemed however to wait longer than usual for the arrival of our server. When she did approach the table she appeared a little flustered, apologizing for taking so long to get to us. She explained that some patrons seated near the door had just skipped out without paying their bill, and she would be expected to cover the restaurant’s loss out of her own paycheck. We sympathized with her for several minutes before she got back to business, pulling her pad out of her pocket and taking down our order.
As she disappeared into the dimly lit interior, our conversation quickly changed to other topics and our table soon echoed with the laughter and teasing that normally accompany my three sons on a Friday night. All thought of the waitress and her predicament seemed to be forgotten, until it came time to pay the bill. Apparently one of the boys had been dwelling on the girl’s dilemma during the entire meal, because he suddenly leaned over and asked me quietly if he could borrow some money. He explained that he felt sorry for the girl and wanted to add to the tip that my husband would leave, but hadn’t brought any cash along. As I dug in my wallet for some bills, his brother chucked the two dollars he’d earlier stuffed into his pocket onto the table as well. The third then spoke up, saying, “I understand what you’re doing and appreciate your desire to help this woman out of a bad situation, but have you considered that the story of the dine-and-dash customers might be just that, a story, designed perhaps to inspire a larger tip?”
We thought about this possibility for a minute. Sitting at the end of the booth as I was, I did hear the server speak her tale of woe to the customers she seated next to us, as well. I myself had wondered about the very scenario my son had brought up. But perhaps she spoke so only because the injustice of the situation was still fresh in her mind and heart. After a minute or two his brother said, “Thanks for the warning, and you might be right. But I think tonight that if I’m wrong, I’ll err on the side of generosity.” He put the extra money on the table and we left soon after.
Life has taught us to be careful, not just with our cash, but also with our hearts. Having been taken advantage of before, we wonder at times if there’s anybody left that we can trust with the things that we hold much more dear than mere dollars – our hopes, our dreams, our loves… our lives. And that uncertainty extends sometimes beyond our earthly relationships to our eternal ones. Can we truly trust God to be all that the Bible declares Him to be? Is He worthy of our all?
The way we worship reflects our answers to those questions. Some of us approach God the same way we approach life, giving just what is due and nothing more – the 15% tip, the 10% tithe, the 20 minutes of singing on a Sunday morning. Others of us find it difficult to give even that much, perhaps still reeling from wrongs done to us in the past, injuries we attribute to God or to the people who are supposed to represent Him. Yet there are others among us whose hearts have been touched by a story… the story of a Savior who loved us enough to suffer injustice on our behalf… silently… that our hurts might be healed and that Heaven could someday be our Home. These people are able to love with abandon and put all they possess on the table, spiritually speaking, willing to risk it all in a lifelong expression of gratitude for what they’ve received.
Worship is so much more than just the songs we sing on Sunday morning. It’s the way we live our lives all week, a mindset that seeks to please God in everything we do, from the thoughts we think, to the words we speak, the love we share, to the way we care for other people.
For eight hours that weekend I listened to world-renowned worship leaders speak on how to move God through music. Yet the lesson that stirred me most came from a teenager in a restaurant booth and was simply this… that when your worship extends past what comes out of your lips to even the size of the tip you leave on the table, it’s then that you’ve truly touched the heart of God and made Him smile.
“…But the time is coming – it has, in fact, come – when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter. It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God…”
(John 4: 22-23 MSG)
(John 4: 22-23 MSG)