Recently, my husband I went for dessert at a restaurant in Augusta, Georgia. The building was old and in the same family for generations. A small place, it was know for its regional foods and colossal deserts. We had eaten dinner at another place, but my husband wanted coffee and dessert. When we arrived, the staff was busy, and we had to wait a few minutes for a table. The bartender seemed to be the host as well. He took us around the corner to a booth made for six. The desserts looked great. My husband ordered coffee and key lime pie while I had carrot cake. The cake was delicious. He ate all of his pie, but because I was still full from supper, 90% of my cake was boxed for a treat to eat the next day.
The next day around 1 PM, I left the hotel and walked along the Savanah River. The view of the river and homes along the bank were beautiful. Few were about as I explored the area on the bright, but cold, January afternoon. At one point there was a wooden swing that I took the time to swing in while overlooking the river. It was very pleasant, but my stomach, which had not enjoyed a breakfast was clamoring for lunch. I’d heard that there were a lot of restaurants along Broad Street a few blocks away, so I headed there on foot. Like many downtowns in America today and in the aftermath of almost a year of Covid lockdowns, the street was lined with a mixture of open and closed businesses. I didn’t see anything that looked inviting. Circling back toward my hotel I remembered a Quiznos sandwich shop sign in the hotel near mine. Approaching to find the doors locked, I realized that even this chain store didn’t make it through the pandemic.
Across the street was the restaurant my husband and I had eaten dessert at last night. Hunger called again, so I crossed the street to climb the three steps up to the restaurant and wait to be seated. A woman greeted and seated me (a party of one) at the exact same table where we ate the night before. It seemed a bit odd to be seated at the same table, and I wondered if we’d have the same gentleman server, too. Separate menus with one for food and another for the desserts were placed on the table as the hostess told me my server would assist me soon. The server was a young woman this time. She had dramatic eye make up and eyeliner that curved way out with a swooped flair that I could never dream of applying to myself without looking like a child had used an oversize crayon on my eyes. As the server greeted me, I explained that my husband and I had been there the night before and enjoyed their dessert menu resulting in a huge piece of cake left over in my hotel room for me to work on after my lunch today. After she brought a coke and some water, my server took my order for corn chowder and a club sandwich on their fresh baked honey wheat bread. The food was good, and I enjoyed sitting there resting from my long walk beside the river and along downtown’s Broad Street. During the meal, the server came by several times to check on me and asked me at least twice if I wanted dessert. I explained over again that my dessert I couldn’t finish the night before was waiting on me at the hotel. As I finished up, I asked my server for some napkins, a box for the second half of my sandwich, and a coke to-go. I thought for a while she went on break or something, because she was gone for a long time. When she finally returned, she brought the box but no napkins or the to-go coke. She apologized and got the napkins and left for the coke. When she came back, she brought the ticket but no coke. The next time she came by I asked for the coke to-go, and she said that she was sorry and somewhat frazzled today. As she left to get the coke, I fished for the cash to pay the bill. It was after she left that I had a distinct feeling and thought that I should pray for my server. She came back after about five more minutes with the coke and took my cash for the bill, but I said nothing. She walked by another time, and I didn’t stop her or say anything about the prompting to pray for her in my mind. That would be weird I thought. When she brought my change saying that she had rounded up my return cash, and that she was sorry that she was so scattered today. I thanked her, and once again, I said nothing about the prompting I felt.
As I counted out my change and figured her tip, I felt clearly a prompting in my spirit once again to pray for this young woman. She’s gone now Lord, I said in my mind. I had paid cash, and I was ‘done’ as far as dealing with the server or waiting on anything else. My server wouldn’t likely come back by, but I hesitated to leave and waited. This time, as she walked by, I asked if I could talk to her. As she turned and leaned down, I began nervously and feeling very awkward to explain. I told her that I felt called to offer to pray for her. After her exaggerated look of surprise, I asked if I could pray for her, but she became animated and had something to say first. I could have never imagined what she would say next. She said, “This is so strange. You are the second person today to ask to pray for me.” She said that she just didn’t understand it. I saw tears in her eyes as she continued and the conversation became so surreal that I don’t remember exactly everything we said, but I can convey the message of what we discussed.
My server started telling me about herself. She said that she’s not a believer, at least not anymore. She said she used to believe but had gone away from that to do her own life. Almost apologetic, she said that though she didn’t hold to a belief in God anymore that she did respect other people’s religions and beliefs. As the manager walked by, I hoped that my conversation with her would not get her in trouble and that no one was waiting to sit at my table. She went on to say again that it was so odd that another person that very day had asked to pray for her. I told her that I felt a bit weird asking to pray for her. I also told her that I felt compelled so that I had to ask to pray for her. The experience is so hard to describe as two souls met in that moment on another plane. After what she told me, I asked again if she would like me to pray for her, and she said yes.
Next I asked her name so that I could pray for her by name. I won’t tell it to anyone reading, but she gave it. I then asked my next question. I asked if she would like me to pray for her privately on my own or right there in the restaurant with her and out loud for her to hear. I was prepared to honor either way. She said out loud and to pray now was fine. So I bowed my head and began.
As I prayed, I asked God’s blessing and guidance for her. I asked God to show her how much he loves her. I can’t remember exactly what all I said, but my prayer was from the heart and though it seemed longer was over in just a few heartbeats. I think she thanked me for praying, but I really can’t remember. It didn’t really matter. It mattered that I did it. As I left, I remember telling her that I hoped she had a good rest of her day. That’s it. I walked to the door, down the steps and out onto the street to go back to my hotel with a few tears in my eyes.
Why did I feel called to pray for the server in that restaurant on that day? What did God want of me? Was it to just pray? Was it so that a lost or hurting soul would know someone cared or that two people on that same day cared and spoke of God to her? Did I do all I was supposed to do in that moment? Was it enough? Did I please my Master? Was I a fool for Christ? Were those few moments and prayer a message for a drifting soul of God’s care, love, and grace? Will she come back to and seek the Lord? Was the lesson for me to see if I’m listening to the Lord and willing to follow His lead? To all these questions, I don’t really know. All I know is that I (very reluctantly) listened to the quiet voice of the spirit within me and let myself be led and used (after a couple promptings) to serve and praise God through a prayer for a server who was a stranger to me while I was very briefly in a strange city where I knew no one.
Who can fathom the mind of God or know his ways? Romans 11:33-34 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”
Perhaps the point of what happened is for me to write about it and share it with you, my readers. Perhaps it is to encourage you to listen to the still, small voice of God to do good in your life and to your neighbor. We’ll probably never know, but I hope you, like me, will ‘think on these things’….
Bible verses to think on…
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37:4-5 (ESV)
“For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds,” Job 333:14-15 (ESV)
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” Psalm 25:4-5
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28 (ESV)
“But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” Luke 8:21 (ESV)
“You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 13:4 (ESV)
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 (ESV)
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22 (ESV)
“But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28 (ESV)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10 (ESV)
“As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:15 (ESV)