Saturday, January 15, 2011

Seeing Jesus at Panera

On Thursday night, my wife Ann and I ate at Panera in Lancaster. Through their rewards program, we'd accumulated enough credits to order a free drink. Ann only wanted a water and told me to pick something out. I was in the mood for a smoothie and ordered one flavor, only to change my mind about the flavor a nanosecond or two later. We payed for our order and took a table.

Not long after, the manager came to us with two smoothies. "I heard you order the one smoothie and had already started making it when you changed your mind. You can have the second one on us!"

Now think about that. The first one was free and the second one was on the restaurant. How often does a deal like that come along?

I was sliding one of the smoothies across the table to Ann when she pointed to the most adorable little girl, sitting with her parents at a table nearby, and said, "You could give it to her."

Ann had overheard the little girl's mom say that she was going back up to the cashier to order a smoothie for her daughter as a dessert. I offered my free gift to them and then, for the next fifteen minutes or so, enjoyed watching this twenty-one-month old sip and pour and thoroughly enjoy her smoothie, freezer headaches and all.

If Ann hadn't noticed this family sitting not more than five feet away, we wouldn't have experienced any of that joy or the brief discussion we had with this young couple.

How much joy do we miss out on in life because we're so wrapped up in our little cocoons of routine and selfishness that we don't see others? Speaking for myself, it happens a lot.

Yet, I believe that we are blessed to be blessings. The love of God in us grows the more we attend to others and give away His love.

That was underscored for me when the dad told us, "That was such a blessing to us. Thanks." When he said that, I thanked God for arranging this little rendezvous and for inspiring Ann to keep her antenna attuned to others even when I'm blind to those around me.

There's a praise song we've sung both at my former parish, Friendship in the Cincinnati area and here at Saint Matthew in Logan. It goes like this:
Open our eyes, Lord
We want to see Jesus
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him
Open our ears, Lord
And help us to listen
Open our eyes, Lord
We want to see Jesus
Jesus says that we see Him in those around us, in those we serve. Maybe one reason I don't see Jesus as often as I could is that I don't serve others as often as I should. 

I'm thankful that Ann opened my eyes on Thursday night. I got to see Jesus again in a Panera! How cool is that?


Ivy said...

How wonderful! We saw Jesus at Pizza Hut once. It's always a challenge to look for God in unexpected places.

Spencer Troxell said...

little moments of grace like the one you describe here are the best. Thanks for sharing this story.