Dishes clattered in the background, but silence hovered at our table. Sharing breakfast with my daughter at a local diner, we deftly attempted to keep tears from escaping our eyes. It was a downhearted meal, a problem in a moment that I no longer remember. What I do remember is this:
A sweet-hearted couple, no longer sitting nearby, had just paid for our meal. Speechless and filled with gratitude, I stared back at the empty seats across the room. My daughter and I smiled and laughed softly. As we looked at each other, I dissolved in grateful tears of thanksgiving.
This memory happened three or more years ago. It speaks volumes to me that I don't remember the problem, but I remember the kindness of a passing stranger.
Back then, we could have been struggling with my son's choices based on his addiction. We might have been troubled over my cancer treatments and their long-term side effects. I possibly may have had an empty nest feeling as my daughter prepared to head back to college. Maybe it was anxiety about end-of-life issues for my parents and in-laws that had us so downhearted.
Have you been there? Sitting in a cafe surrounded by liveliness but feeling lifeless in a world that may fall apart at any moment. Maybe you prayed that the Lord would just tell you:
It's gonna be okay.
The random act of kindness presented on that day had a profound effect on me. It struck me that this particular brand of 'random kindness' was one of my husband's favorite things to do when dining out. I've lost count of the many times he casually looked across a room and called the waitress over to pay for another's meal. He always insists they say nothing until after we've left.
Mathew 6:4 says that "Your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
Mathew 5:16 also tells us, " In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
I love that my husband has a heart to 'Shine a light' yet, in secret, allows it to glorify God for others. Before my encounter, I never had any real idea what the recipient might walk away feeling in their heart. Maybe a grateful laugh and a feeling of joy from thoughtful actions, or perhaps a mystery that goes unsolved to leave them wondering. We always hoped it would leave a bright spot in someone's day.
I now know it is so much more than that. It glorifies God when we shine a light for others. For my daughter and me, it was an answer to an unspoken prayer. Our souls silently groaned, and the Spirit answered through actions of another sweet soul. A stirred tenderness of the heartstrings prompted a stranger to act with thoughtfulness, in our sadness. The Lord showed us in this way:
It's gonna be okay.
By willingly obeying a prompting of the heart, a stranger blessed another's soul more abundantly than they would ever know. Years later, I can't remember what troubled us in that diner. I only remember the unspoken message.
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." Mathew 24:35
The troubles we have in this world will not stay with us. The words of the Lord, the unspoken message to our hearts, will be known forever.
By remembering a random act of kindness from years past, I am reminded of the love God shows us in troubling times. We are all so incredibly blessed to be intentional image-bearers of Christ for one another. All it takes is a willingness to hear the random tug on the heart and obey the whisper to do a kindness. Whether you are paying it forward or shining a light in secret, the Father sees and will reward you.
Be intentional in these things:
Encourage one another.
Love one another.
Be kind to one another.