This past week was wild! In just over a week, I was blessed to speak at two funerals, tape two TV shows, speak in two states and preach 11 times. As an evangelist, I never stop meeting people. Last weekend, I was walking in Fort Myers, Florida with a college friend and two people stopped us on the street to tell me that we’re friends on Facebook and they’ve been blessed by the ministry. Praise the Lord!
Recently, while back at home in Maryland my wife, Ruth and kids dined out at one of our favorite places. Typically, the service and food are first class, but this time it took us over two hours to get seated. Long story short, by the time we got our food and drinks, we had been at the restaurant for over three hours and my wife’s food was cold.
The kids were getting restless and I was tempted to get weary. However, I was reminded of Galatians 6:9, which reads, " And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." What was supposed to be a “perfect evening” with the family dining at one of our favorite places to eat was turning into a nightmare. My daughter Hannah said, “Daddy, why don’t you complain to the waitress when she comes back out.” The service was super slow that night, the food was late and now my wife didn’t even feel like eating. It was not a good experience.
I had two options. I could “make a scene” or take the high road. The waitress knew the evening was not the best and her eyes were hesitant to look at me as she brought the bill. Some customers may have been tempted to demand not to pay for some of the food or get a free appetizer, but tapping into God’s grace I said to the young woman: “I realize tonight was not a usual evening for either one of us and it was just one of those rare evenings where everything that could go wrong did. However, it is not your fault. I could tell you guys were slammed tonight the moment we walked in and I admire you working hard and pray the rest of your evening is much better for you as you continue to serve your customers.” I then gave her my debit card to pay for the bill and she walked away. My daughter asked, “Dad, why didn’t you let her have it?”
Less than two minutes later, the waitress came back with my bill and had this huge smile on her face. She said: “First of all, thanks for not yelling at me tonight. Second, I thought that was you when you came in, but wasn’t sure and when I saw your name on your card I knew it was you!” She then screams “You’re Frank Shelton.” Now she has my and everyone else’s attention in a six booth radius and said, “You spoke at my church over ten years ago and signed my Bible and I wanted to thank you for the impact you have had on my life! I still read from that Bible on a daily basis.” She walked away and my daughter’s eyes were bigger than the plate on our table.
My daughter who was demanding that I make a scene, speak up for us and demand an apology or appetizer said, "Whew, Dad, you just dodged a bullet! I am so glad you didn't listen to me." By God’s grace, we encountered a pop quiz that evening and didn’t even know it. Because we listened to the Holy Spirit, we passed that test. Can you imagine how I would have felt if I would have belittled that waitress? My testimony would have suffered and may have hindered her walk with the Lord. In this journey with Jesus, we don’t have to be famous but faithful. When the trumpet sounds, we will stand before Christ alone, not before crowds, critics or even Christians.
The next time you are hit with a “pop quiz,” I pray you will dig deep and give God glory in both your victories and valleys. We never know when someone is watching but rest assured, God is. I pray that we may be found faithful. In school we got grades, but in life we need grace. Everyone has a bad day (even preachers), but may we be a blessing to others because we represent Jesus all the time. Our testimony is more important than our titles. Pop quizzes can come at a moment’s notice. When I was in grade school the teacher issued them when I least expected it or was unprepared. However, our Teacher has not left us ill prepared. We have a helper in the Holy Spirit. We need to promote the love of Jesus in our daily lives. Some preach, others teach but all of us are called to reach the hurting with the hope of Heaven.