A convicting question arose while watching an otherwise warm-hearted news story about four young men making an unselfish choice at a time when choosing selfishness over the common good seems to be in style.
While Braves fans were celebrating their World Series championship on the night of Nov. 2, this youthful quartet of Waffle House “regulars” stopped by their favorite one among many in the Atlanta suburbs. They were seeking a late-night meal, but what they found was chaos.
The all-night restaurant was overwhelmed with customers. Yet only two of the five employees scheduled for that shift had shown up to work.
Dirty dishes were stacked high. Workers were scattered, smothered and covered with demands for eggs, bacon, waffles and hash browns.
Taking note of the situation, these four guys — as one told a CBS46 reporter — “just went back there and started helping.”
That was not their only option. And the haunting question is what I would have done in a similar situation.
Would I have scrubbed or grumbled? Would I have helped out or lashed out?
Would I have taken out the trash or trashed the company on social media?
Would I have pitched in or pitched a fit? Would I have fed others or frustratingly fled?
Would I have offered a cup of cool water to someone — as Jesus suggests in Matthew 10:42? Or, better yet, refilled an empty white cup with black coffee?
It’s worth noting that none of the young men said to the frazzled, apron-donned workers: “Let us know if you need anything.” Rather, they just saw the immediate needs and acted promptly.
While recognition (from the company and others) for their efforts has now come — after some photos taken that night were posted online — that was not the reason these guys pitched in.
They simply observed where a helping hand was needed and responded generously. They had no obligation other than what shared humanity requires.
But what if such behavior was simply routine and expected rather than rare and newsworthy?
What if this kind of gracious, helpful response was the natural reflex of all who claim to follow the one who “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28)?
I’m reminded of a conversation from years ago with the late Millard Fuller, co-founder of Habitat for Humanity International and the Fuller Center for Housing. We were at Koinonia Farm and talking about the influence Clarence Jordan had on his life.
Millard recalled when he and his wife, Linda, were at the farm to refocus their lives and priorities moving from wealth to generosity. Millard said he told Clarence they were seeking God’s will for their lives.
Clarence, the insightful New Testament scholar and Jesus-attuned disciple, said the idea of “God’s will” had been made too complicated. He showed Millard a decaying shack near the entrance to the farm and asked the entrepreneur how he’d made money lately. The answer was home construction.
Millard said Clarence told him that God’s will was fulfilled by simply matching what needs to be done with what we’re able to do with what God said we should be doing.
Whether building homes with persons in need; repairing frayed relationships due to racism; or washing dishes at an overrun Waffle House — it really is a simple concept.
It just depends on the choices we make at the moment of need. And how seriously we take the notion of following Jesus.
Executive editor / publisher at Good Faith Media.