The Lunch Encounter
By Joanne Reese
At half past noon, I stand in line, looking forward to enjoying lunch with my laptop in a quiet corner. Instead, the customer behind me breaks the silence.
“You really shouldn’t park so close to somebody who just had surgery. I couldn’t even get out of my car.”
My face flushes. “I am so sorry.”
Rolling her eyes, she shakes her head and turns away.
I give the young man behind the counter a five dollar bill, wishing I could somehow re-pay the bottomless debt. But in the clamor of a lunch rush, forgiveness is more than this woman seems able to give.
I find my seat and spread cream cheese over my untoasted bagel. Her tired eyes trouble me. I wrestle with thoughts of how I could have been more cautious and wonder if she could have been more careful with her words.
Tears trickle down my face. Keeping my eyes on my laptop screen, I hope nobody will notice. Surgery is devastating – I’ve been through it myself. The pain, the fatigue, the feelings of hopelessness can make even getting out of a car overwhelming. She must have felt trapped and maybe even forgotten. How could I have hurt her this way?
The restaurant continues to fill with casual conversation. I try to focus on my writing project, but don’t have much luck. More than my apology, this angry woman needs my prayer. Beyond the obvious discomfort of stitches and fatigue lived a deeper wound. It seemed she was unacquainted with forgiveness. Was that why she could not offer it to me?
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48
As I finish my bagel, my heart swells with a new appreciation for where this woman was coming from. I too, lived years without knowing the forgiveness of a Savior. Life without the comfort and peace of Christ is miserable, causing a person to take it out on whoever happens to be in the way.
Tables empty as I turn off my computer and gather my things. I toss my tear-soaked napkin into the nearest trash can, and face the torrent of the parking lot. This was definitely not what I had planned for my lunch today. Humiliation ends up being my lunch date, all for the sake of intercession. But submitting myself to God’s plan by praying for this dear woman, I am given the choice to trust that my own tears were collected in the most amazing little bottle.
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You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle - are they not in Your book? (Psalm 56:8 Amplified Bible)
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Joanne Reese discovered her love for writing in the pages of her journal. Venturing beyond personal muse, Joanne has been published with a local on-line magazine called www.myturlock.com. She has composed several articles for her church's newsletter and has created Bible study curriculum for home groups. She has also contributed to www.avirtuouswoman.org. Joanne's website: www.joannereese.com.
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