Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Eight Dollar Man

Most people my age and older are well acquainted with the Six Million Dollar Man. I personally have never had the pleasure of encountering this iconic figure of my parents’ decade, but I am just old enough to recollect the murmurings and references of such a famous figure of pop culture from days bygone. Those who are younger than me may have no idea what I am talking about.

The Six Million Dollar Man was a superhero in his own right with his body being severely injured after a crash, then being given “bionic” implants in his right arm, both legs and left eye enabling him to have strength, speed and vision far above human norms. How could that not make for a great tv show, right? Uh, yeah sure. Sounds fascinating.

Well I have encountered my own Six Million Dollar Man, except I like to call him the Eight Dollar Man. An iconic figure in my own life reminding me what this life is truly about after all. And instead of a life altering crash this story begins with a normal day at work. A place I have desperately tried to get out of but God has stubbornly refused my advances, reminding me once again that He is less concerned with our “comfort” and more with our character and willingness to be used by Him in any circumstance.

About a month or so ago, I waited on an older man at our establishment on a Friday night, eating dinner by himself. I remember that he ordered the Atlantic Salmon with steamed veggies and a glass of wine. How do I remember that? Well, a great waitress never reveals her secrets. He was a well spoken, well mannered man, dressed nicely in relaxed business attire. He reminded me of the type that would sit in his library smoking a pipe while listening to opera. I don’t know if he does this or not, but in my mind this is how he spends his free time.

As is my job, if a customer initiates small talk I will interact following their lead. And as many conversations do here in Sydney, it followed the normal pattern of “Oh, are you American?” “Why, yes, I am”, with a plastered smile on my face. “What brings you here?” and then I delve into my rehearsed speech of how my husband is attending school here and on and on, to which they ask what is he studying, where does he go, etc. I answer that he is studying at Hillsong College. At that point I get many different responses depending on their belief of Hillsong, which is funny, because it is never based on their belief of God but rather Hillsong Church.

It was at this point that he responded with, “I have always wanted to go there.” Explaining that he has watched them on tv, but was never sure how one attends, to which I responded that all you have to do is show up and we would love to have him, etc. Now, I have invited many people to church and received many interesting responses (do you have to pay to get in, can anyone come, etc.). So this was still nothing too unusual. Throughout the rest of his meal we small talked here and there as I went about my duties serving him and the surrounding tables. At this point he formally introduced himself to me, shaking my hand. We talked about his job, where he was from, where he has traveled, etc. At the end of the meal, he thanked me profusely, gave me a tip, and was on his way. Nothing grand, nothing out of the ordinary.

A week or so later, I saw this man while “window shopping” with my family at the local shops. Not knowing if he remembered me but feeling the need, I walked up to him saying hi, reminding him who I was and how I knew him. He said, “oh yes, I tipped you five dollars.” I remembered what he ate, he remembers what he tipped. An interesting relationship servers have with their customers. I asked how he was doing, introduced him to my family, etc. He inquired if I was working that night, to which I answered yes, that I was going to go in a few hours. He commented that he wouldn’t be going that night, but spoke of why he enjoys our particular restaurant, etc.

He asked again about Hillsong Church to which I invited him again, telling him the times of services, etc. He reiterated his question of what does one do to get in. I reminded him that all he needs to do is just come, that we are more than happy to have him, and there is a whole host of people waiting to help him with whatever he needs. We finished up the conversation and my family and I went on our way, thinking how interesting that our paths would cross again like that, and is God up to something.

I went on to work that night with not much more thought to the situation when lo and behold, I spied this Eight Dollar Man across the restaurant once again eating dinner by himself. I then spent a good 10 minutes trying to decide whether to go over and say hi or not. I mean, I don’t want to seem like a stalker or anything and creep the guy out, but I did want to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Was this a case of a lonely man searching for God and responding to a caring individual? Or did the earlier conversation only wet his appetite for Salmon again? I truly didn’t know.

He was not on my side of the restaurant so I really had no reason to “happen by” his table. Not to mention Friday nights at our restaurant are too busy to just be moseying around without accomplishing something purposeful. I had pretty much decided against it but then I just stopped and prayed in the kitchen. God, if this is You, then enable my path to cross his and I will step out and say hi to him again. I proceeded to busy myself with the demands of my job when on my way back to the kitchen, guess who stopped me? That’s right, Eight Dollar Man. On his way to the restrooms, which did happen to be right by my side of the restaurant. God works in mysterious ways, eh?

We interacted in a small amount of small talk and that was it. He was on his way and I felt a huge amount of relief. Relief for not missing out on an opportunity from God. Relief that I would not be mistaken for a creeper. And relief that I fully believed at this point that yes, God was indeed “in this”.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. It is a Friday morning not unlike many others. I had a College Wives Girl’s Night planned for that evening. I had specifically taken off work for this, picked up an extra shift that week to cover missing that night and I was really looking forward to hanging with some of my girls. I had big plans for this day. Little did I know, God had even bigger plans, all starting with eight dollars.

After paying rent that day we found we had only eight dollars left in our bank account. Not an unusual event here during this season of our life in Sydney, Australia. But this time we still had needs left that required money. At the thought of another year in this state of circumstances just seemed a bit too much for us that day and so after a time in prayer with each other and God, crying out for breakthrough and provision for what was still needed, we continued on with our day.

Brandon and I found ourselves “window shopping” in the same shop that my family had met Eight Dollar Man in. For the first time in a while I thought of him (the Eight Dollar Man), wondering if he did indeed make it to any services at Hillsong Church, how he was doing, would I ever know if inviting him ever made a difference.

A few hours before I was due to party it up with my girls I received a phone call from work that they needed someone to come in and cover for another server. Now, like I said, I had my plans for this evening and normally there is no way I would let work interfere with something like this, but as soon as they asked I knew I had to say yes. My bank account gave me no other choice, not to mention something in me rose up that God was ordaining this. I assumed maybe I was going to get a huge tip or something grand of that nature. But once again, God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

I went in to work praising God for His provision and giving me opportunities to access that provision in our lives, ready for anything that He might do. Now, I want to pause right here and say that we have seen God do outright miracles in our life, especially since we have been in Sydney. I mean outright miracles. Things that are unmistakable, have carved an utter confidence in us that God is indeed on the throne and is our Provider in every sense of the word. I have no doubt in His provision for us, but sometimes I do have to adjust my mentality of what that means and looks like. Provision covers so much more than getting what we want. It covers what we need, and very rarely do we as His children ever know what we need.

So there I am at work, serving my tables, offering smiles, dealing with disgruntled customers, and whatever other task lay before me, all with an unshakeable confidence that I would see God move. When out of nowhere, there is Eight Dollar Man eating dinner! He stops me with a huge smile, I sit down and say hi, shake his hand, and ask how he is doing. He asks about my kids and husband, if everyone is doing well, then he tells me that he did indeed attend a Hillsong Service! I couldn’t believe my ears… he actually went. And not once, but twice!

This lonely, older gentleman, who eats dinner all by himself, wanting to go to church but just not sure how, actually went. All because a young woman, all the way from the other side of the world, who has grumbled most of her way through this job, with nothing to offer in and of herself, invited him. God is truly wondrous! I told him that I hope he would comes back to church again and that if he lets me know ahead of time then Brandon and I would be more than happy to meet up with him so he doesn’t have to sit alone. His face lit up at this and he said that he would truly like that.

I walked away from our conversation in awe of God. I felt a complete sense in my spirit of God saying, “Provision? I’ve got your provision. To provide for you is nothing for me. This is so much bigger than your provision. Lives are at stake. I knew then that He used the eight dollars in our account to cause me to go to work that night. To deter me from the plans that I had made for my night. And I was grateful for the eight dollars. I was grateful that He had allowed us to be in a position that would propel us into what He is doing. And I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, with exactly what He wants in our bank account because it is nothing to Him to turn those numbers around over night.

So will we ever see him again? Will we ever sit with him in Hillsong Church? Will I ever have the privilege of seeing him come to know Christ? I don’t know. But I do know this. If all we have is eight dollars to our name for the rest of our life, but He is using those eight dollars to position us for His kingdom then so be it. I would rather have eight dollars and reach people for Him then have eight thousand and be utterly useless to the kingdom of God.

And that is why he is our Eight Dollar Man, a superhero to our personal faith. Inspiring us to live above the norms of life, to do away with apathetic attitudes, reminding us again of why we are here and what we are to be about even in the most unsuspecting of circumstances. Nothing puts it better than the words of God himself in Matthew 6:30-33, “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (The Message)

1 comment:

  1. Friend, you are truly amazing! Thank you for reminding me of the big picture, of who we are and who God is. Reminding me of our ultimate purpose and fathomless reward as children of God. I can absolutely relate to where you are as I have been there many times and I'm praying for God's peace and provision for you.

    I love you friend!!!!
    Tiffany Chapman