Paid in Full

Bad news … it seems to come at us at an ever-increasing pace. We have access to more information than we need, and most of it is more alarming than we can handle. But, every once in a while, a beam of light shines through. It’s a reminder of God’s love, grace and mercy. It’s a reminder that there is still good in this world.

That beam of light shined on my family this week in a most unexpected way, and it was as if God was speaking directly to me. A small gesture from a stranger made a huge impact on me, my wife and my kids.

We don’t usually eat out on weeknights, but after work on this particular night, we just didn’t feel like cooking. So, we decided to head over to a popular local seafood spot to get our fried fish fix. Everything was normal … until our waitress came by to bring us our bill. On it, the words “Paid in Full.” On the back of the ticket, a simple message: “God loves you.”

I’ve done the pay-it-forward, fast food, drive-thru thing before. It’s one thing to pay for a meal. It’s another to pay for a family of four. As it began to sink in, I was just blown away that someone would do that for a stranger. As it turns out, the man responsible for this act of kindness was sitting in the booth behind us, a regular at the restaurant who just wanted to do something nice. No strings attached. Here was a man who very obviously and tangibly lives his life to be a beam of light to others. This man was stepping out to show God’s love to a family he doesn’t know.

If you watch the news or spend much time on social media, you would think there is more hate in this world than love. For me, this act wasn’t about the money, which we had to cover our own meal. This was a reminder, straight from God, that there is love in this world, but it’s up to us to step out and show it. This was a reminder to my impressionable young kids the importance of kindness and reaching out to others. For their father, it was a kick in the pants reminding me that all to often, I neglect to show like this to strangers. God has done so much for me, none of which is deserved. Most notable is Jesus’ death on the cross where my sin debt was “Paid in Full.” My response to such a gift should be to share it with others … to be a light to all whom I encounter.

The weight of all of this, and it was brought on by a simple paid dinner bill! I was reminded of¬†Galatians 5:10 that says “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” This gentleman had lived this “to a T.” He had seized an opportunity. And, Jesus says, in Matthew 5:17, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

That one night, a light was shining in the back booth of a local seafood spot, and God was glorified. And, it stopped me in me and my family in our tracks to see such an example of how we ought to live. Thank you, sir, for being an example to my children. Thank you, friend, for being an inspiration to me.

Now, the question is, “What are we going to do about it moving forward?”


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