She was thin and young, with sad eyes, and she was our waitress at Valley Dairy last Sunday night.
And she was grouchy. Megan noticed it first, and commented on it in a whisper to the rest of us. I wanted to cheer her up by making sure we left a decent tip at least. Scotty was more direct.
After our food came, he asked us, “Does anyone mind if we ask her if she has any prayer requests? I usually ask whoever’s waiting on us if we can pray for them.” I knew he did this, but I just… forgot.
The rest of us agreed, and when Britnee came back to our table, Scotty explained the situation: “We pray before we eat our food, and we wanted to pray for you and were wondering if there’s any specific way we can pray for you?”
Britnee thought about it. “No, not really.. I’m going to rehab tomorrow…” She trailed off.
“Can we pray about that?”
“Sure,” she said, and walked away. Sean got elected to pray, or elected himself, I don’t really remember which. He asked God to show His love to Britnee and just to let us shine His love through to her, and that He would make Himself real to her and protect her and be with her there. I don’t remember the exact details or words, and they don’t matter here. Our Lord heard them, and they came from Sean’s heart – and ours.
Alyssa and Megan were happy God gave us this opportunity to talk to someone who needed Him so badly, and they started talking about inviting her to YAs at Word of Life.
The next time she came back, Megan asked her if she was part of any religion or faith or anything, and she told us she had gone to some different churches in the area.
“Do you mind if we pray for you while you’re here?” Sean asked her. “I mean, would it be weird or strange or anything? Would that be okay?”
“Yeah, sure,” she said, a little enthusiastic. “You know, I think God’s angry with me, because I stopped wearing my cross necklace.” I couldn’t help but laugh a little at the idea that the God who loves her so much would get angry at her because she stopped wearing a cross.
Sean prayed for her. The words he spoke aren’t important here, only that they came from his heart, that we agreed, and that they demonstrated God’s love for a sad waitress. When we all said the amen, she thanked us. She seemed a lot happier. More hopeful. She walked away.
It was then that I noticed Sean. He was scribbling away with a pen that had come from nowhere. He was writing a note to Britnee, telling her that God loved her no matter what she’d done. And he was writing it on the inside cover of a miniature gospel of John. Apparently he “just happened” to have it with him.
“I hope she’ll read it,” he told me, when he noticed I’d seen him writing. He put it up on the table and finished it up. Britnee came and started cleaning off our table, then walked hack to the kitchen. We left her a fairly large tip.
As we got up to leave, Britnee stopped us. “How do you guys all know each other?”
“We go to a Young Adult group at the same church.
“Where are you all from?”
“Everywhere,” I told her. “Megan’s from Plum, Scotty’s from Irwin, Sean’s from Delmont, Alyssa’s from Scottdale, and I’m from Latrobe.”
Alyssa gave Britnee her email address and told her to email her, and Megan told her she could come to YAs, and we gave her directions to Word of Life and told her the time. She revealed a few more things about what was going on, and we left, after she re-iterated her concerns for us to “be careful.”
We were on our way out of the dining room when she noticed the tip.
“This was totally uncalled for,” she said, waving the money. I winked and smiled, hoping she got the message in them:
“We know. But we love you. God loves you, and we are the expression of that love to you tonight.”
She’d expressed concern about job security, so each of us told the cashier what a good job she’d done. She followed us over to the register and reminded us once again to “be careful.” We walked outside.
Now I knew what Christians do: they love.
The odd thing is, though, we’d tried two other restaurants before that one. They were both closed. I don’t think it was a coincidence. I also don’t think it’s just a coincidence that the girls happened to be with us, so Britnee was more comfortable… or that Scotty was, so we’d remember to ask her if we could pray for her. Or Sean, to pray for her. Or that Sean had that gospel of John and a pen handy, either. Or even that God sent us there (“coincidentally”) on the exact very night before she was going to rehab. God knows what He’s about. He totally set us up to love on Britnee.
That whole night was God telling Britnee “I love you. I care about you – I care where you are, where you’re going, and even about your finances. I’m not a stingy God, and I’m not angry with you about that cross necklace. I really care about you.”
God reached down with our hands and gave to her, and He spoke into her life with our voices. Of course we can’t take credit – He set us up! He put us in place to do His will for Britnee… to love her. To pour His love into her. To plant a seed. To chase her down, not like a cop chases down a bandit, but like a lover chases down his beloved – unrelenting, but ever gentle and kind, and with only one desire – to love her. That’s what God does, and that’s what He did that night. Britnee never prayed the sinner’s prayer while we were there, and that’s okay. God does that work. He works changes, in His own sweet time, and in His own way.
We know Jesus was there that night, because no one who was ever with Jesus stayed the same. Well, let me tell you: we had two different waitresses that night. Both were named Britnee, and both looked exactly alike… but the first was sad, and the second had met Jesus in his physical body – the church. The second Britney had a smile on her face, and hope in her eyes.
The church. In other words, five Christians eating a meal together. If we are His body (and we are), then the hands of Jesus wrote her a note and told her that God loved her. His lips spoke to her. His wallet was opened to her.
I’ve heard one preacher talk about what Christians do like this: “We go to church… preacher preaches.. and then we go home. ‘Cause that’s what Christians do.” He repeated that motto over and over again, and used it as an illustration. He never really bothered to explain what in fact it is that Christians do, that I can remember. Well… since last Sunday, I now know what it is that Christians do.
Pray for Britnee. That God will send her more Christians. Pray for Christians. That they’ll love her. Pray for all the Britnees, that they’ll meet Jesus, in His body the church.. and that His body the church will love them.
Love the Britnees.
The blessings of our Lord and Savior be with you all. Amen.