This past week was wild! In just over a week, I was blessed to speak at two funerals, tape two TV shows, speak in two states and preached 11 times. The movie: “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” comes to mind and the one thing I’m never at a shortage of in my line of work as an evangelist is PEOPLE. Not talking the magazine but mankind. Just last weekend, I was with my college buddy, Billy Griffin walking in gorgeous Fort Myers, Florida while in town preaching in the Sunshine State and two people stopped me on the street to tell me that we’re friends on FACEBOOK and they’ve been blessed by the ministry. PRAISE THE LORD!
Recently, while back at home in Maryland my wife, Ruth and kids dined out at one of our favorite places in Southern Maryland on a Friday night. I won’t name the place because everyone is entitled to a bad outing periodically. Typically, the service is first class and the food – First Rate! It took us over two hours to get seated. Thirty minutes LATER the waitress finally came over and took our drink orders. Firfteen minutes after that we finally got our drinks. Now exceeding the three hour mark, when the meal finally came, my wife, Ruth's food was cold. Baby Andrew began to cry, Ruth began to sigh and I thought I was going to die. The SNICKERS commercial danced in my head: “Not going anywhere for awhile?” It has been said: “If Momma ain’t happy……..” you get the point.
The kids were getting restless and I have the patience of Job but was tempted to get weary. I was immediately reminded of Gal 6:9 "And let us not be WEARY in WELL doing for in DUE season we shall reap IF we faint not." What was supposed to be a “perfect evening” with the family dining at one of our favorite places to eat was turning into anything but the ideal dinner date. Ruth took Andrew outside to calm him down because he was “running on empty.” My daughter, Hannah said: “Daddy, why don’t you complain to the waitress when she comes back out.” The fact is the service was super slow that night, the food was late and now my wife didn’t even feel like eating. We were in Maryland but all I could think of was Texas with the words: "HOUSTON, we have a problem."
I had two options: “Make a scene” or take the high road. My daughter who turns 13 this week and an angel was whispering for me to "GIVE IT TO HER!" With the clock ticking, late in the game (dinner) and running on fumes emotionally our waitress came back and I thought WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? She knew the evening was not the best and her eyes were hesitant to look at me as she brought the bill. Some customers may have been tempted to demand not to pay for some of the food or get a FREE apetizer but tapping into God’s grace I said to the young woman: “I realize tonight was not a usual evening for either one of us and it was just one of those rare evenings where everything that could go wrong did. However, it is not your fault. I could tell you guys were slammed tonight the moment we walked in and I admire you working hard and pray the rest of your evening is much better for you as you continue to serve your customers.” From there, I proceeded to give her my debit card to pay for the bill and she walked away. My daughter said: “Dad, why didn’t you let her have it?? The truth is the service stinked tonight!“
Literally, less than two minutes later the waitress comes back with my bill to sign and had this HUGE smile on her face. She said: “First of all, thanks for not yelling at me tonight. Second, I thought that was you when you came in but wasn’t sure and when I saw your name on your card I knew it was you! She then screams “You’re FRANK SHELTON!! Now she has my and everyone else’s attention in a six booth radius. She said: “You spoke at my church over ten years ago and signed my Bible and I wanted to thank you for the IMPACT you have had on my life! I still read from that Bible on a daily basis!!” She walked away, my daughter’s eyes were bigger than the plate on our table and my heart skipped not once but twice.
My same daughter who was demanding that I make a scene, speak up for ourselves and DEMAND an apolgy or apetizer then with her mouth on the table said "WHEW!! Dad, you just dodged a bullet!! I am so glad you didn't listen to me!!" By God’s grace, we encountered a POP QUIZ that evening and didn’t even know it. Thanks to tapping into the Holy Spirit “by faith” and not acting in the flesh we PASSED THAT TEST. Can you imagine how I would have felt if on that one instance (when the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak) would have belittled that little lady? My testimony would have suffered and worse may have hindered her walk with the Lord. In this journey with Jesus we don’t have to be famous but FAITHFUL. Friends, when the Trumpet sounds we will not stand before crowds, critics or even Christians but CHRIST alone.
The next time you are hit with a “pop quiz” may you too dig deep and press into God to give Him Glory in both your victories and valleys. We just never know when someone is watching but rest assured, The One whom matters most is watching (God) and may we be found faithful. In school we got grades but in life we need GRACE. Everyone has a bad day (even preachers) but may we be a blessing to others because we represent Jesus all the time (not just part of the time). Our testimony is more important than our titles but “to whom much is given much is required.” The word TESTimony has “test” in it and a pop quiz is a mini-test to gauge how we are doing at the time. Plus, pop quizes can come at a moment’s notice. When I was in grade school the teacher issued them when I least expected it or least prepared. However, our Teacher has not left us ill-prepared. We have a helper in the Holy Spirit. We need to stay PRAYED UP in order to promote out the love of Jesus in our daily lives. May we acquire to have more of a heart knowledge to go with our head knowledge and graduate from Sunday saints to every day evangelizers. Some preach, others teach but all of us are called to REACH the hurting with the Hope of Heaven.
** This post was originally written in 2011