We often say (and believe) that actions speak louder than words. Maybe, in a way, this assertion also validates research studies claiming that nonverbal “cues” make up most (60-90%) of our communication. Today, I could have cared less about studies. I was looking at the evidence… up close and personal.
Our waitress was young… perhaps in her late teens or early twenties? She was extremely thin. Her nose piercing was tasteful, as such piercings go. She was efficient, but didn’t smile much… at least, at first. What struck me most was the tattoo on her arm.
I realized later why You had me sit on a particular side of the table, Lord. It was so I could see her tattoo. It was on the inside of her arm, and could only be spotted — and read — by someone sitting in my particular chair. When I read it, my heart broke. How could any cry for “HELP!” be more obvious? It read:
“Hell is empty… and all the devils are here.”
Oh, Abba… What could have happened in this young woman’s life that she would permanently tattoo such words on her arm?
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” (John 10:10a)
We were in a little restaurant almost 100 miles from home. Just passing through. I knew this might be the only time I ever saw her. She was the only waitress there and, although it was mid-afternoon, she had many tables to serve. How could I possibly make a lasting difference, Lord?
I prayed for her… and prayed… and prayed. And, as You directed me, I chatted with her, as much as her customer load would allow… looking into her eyes and smiling, often… expressing my gratitude for everything she did, and the food she served…. drawing her out about superficial things, but listening to her and responding to her… calling her by name… tipping her generously… lightly touching her arm when we left, saying, “Take care.”
And I prayed for her… and prayed… and prayed… And I pray for her, even now.
I felt so helpless, Lord. But maybe that’s the point. I could not save her… only You can. And though I passed through her world today for the briefest moment, You are watching over her every moment… 24/7. And You want nothing more than for her to know of Your Love for her… and to accept and embrace Your Love whenever the moment is right (ripe) for her.
Yet You blessed me, too, with a role in her journey… however small. Somehow I knew — and trusted — I was doing all You had for me to do. I had not “earned the right” to go deeper with her. Besides, neither the time nor the place were conducive to such an encounter. By Your grace, I did not add to her burdens today. And I was oh-so-grateful to see her smile as we parted ways. If a picture paints a thousand words, how many are “spoken” through a smile?
Maybe the very reason You sent us on our afternoon adventure today, ending up in that particular restaurant, was so I could simply pray for her…
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16b)
Even this is all Your doing, Lord. The only righteousness I have is Yours, Jesus, given to me as Your Gift from the Cross.
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people… the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:14)