I've not always been a big tipper. There was a time in my life when I lived more like a Pharisee and rules were the center of my world. The rule said you tipped 10% minimum and I followed the rule. What was worse was that I felt entitled to good service and would therefore withhold my tip if I felt the service was not up to par. It was as if I had a grading system and I "scored" the waiter's service and passed out the necessary tip accordingly.
I'm ashamed to say I lived that way for a very long time. As I have moved along this journey of Christ-Centered Financial Wellness, however, I've learned to be more generous...and more forgiving. I now try to engage the person serving me just a little more, in order to better understand their life and why they choose to serve. By being a little more attentive to these sometimes "invisible to others" people, I have had some very memorable dining experiences. The wait staff have shared more of themselves than just their ability to get my order correct and I have spent a little extra time thinking about someone other than myself.
Keith and I often leave a restaurant shaking our heads at how God has worked through the randomness of our dining experience to bless our wait staff and us.
After experiencing His wonder at a restaurant recently, I was stopped short as I thought about how often I have missed out on His great "service" because I did not fully engage in getting to know Him and better understand His plan for my life.
What if God were your Server at your next dining out experience? What type of tip would you give Him? Would you "grade" Him based on His ability (scratch that...decision) to answer your prayers in a timely manner? Would you be more generous or less generous if your prayer "order" did not meet your expectations?
Ouch! I have been here more times than I care to remember. I am definitely speaking from experience on this one.
As Keith and I were going through the early days of debt reduction, I had many moments when I was not excited about our progress or our plan. I was frustrated, scared and overwhelmed by the massive amount of debt we had and the money that seemed to be leaking out of our checking account each month. I often cried out to God for Him to get my prayer order right!
You know my order...get rid of our debt quickly, bring us more income right now, remove the obstacles from our path and don't let them come back, stop keeping us from [you fill in the blank].
If I didn't know better, I would have thought I was placing an order at my favorite restaurant. I had reviewed the menu, made my decision and placed my order. All I needed now was for my "Server" to correctly (and in a timely manner) deliver what I requested.
But that's not how God works. He does not "deliver" the answers to our prayer request based on our expectations.
He answers our prayers based on what we need. And what we need is not always what we want.
Romans 12:12 tells us to "rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer" and Proverbs 19:21 says "many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."
So let's stop tipping God with our small worship. Let's stop tipping God with our disobedience. Let's stop tipping God with our lackluster prayers. Let's stop tipping God with our bad attitudes.
When we do, we will see the fullness of His plan unfold and we'll be all the better for it.
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Until next week...be well...be encouraged.