The young man served as a dining car waiter on both legs of a recent train trip we took to and from New York City. "Is everything gooood? Are you sure you don't want bacon?" I can still hear the echoes of Derrick's earnest and sincere inquiries voiced through his smile and energetic attitude. We never had opportunity for personal chat - Derrick was much too busy for that. However, our encounters with him in the dining car always left us feeling as if we had been particularly blessed by a person who acts as if he realizes himself to be particularly blessed. His accent indicated he may have emigrated from an African nation, and if so, we conjectured that perhaps he is grateful to be in the United States after a challenging upbringing in his native land.
The Lord especially graced our last encounter with Derrick. After disembarking from our train, I thought of Derrick and wished I might have opportunity to thank him one more time for the kindness he showed to us. "Heavenly Father," I prayed, "if it be Your will, I'd love to see Derrick one more time and tell him what a blessing he has been." Less than three minutes later, who walks into the station - as always, moving fast and with a big smile on his face - but Derrick? I called out to him, and he turned around to see who beckoned. I walked up to the young man and shook his hand. He responded just as I expected, and I am grateful I was able to tell him one last time how much we appreciated his service. I could tell he was still working, and kept the final encounter brief, but I rejoiced to be able to express my appreciation. He responded as expected, with a big smile and a gracious "Thank you!" Then he was on his busy way again, still smiling and leaving us with the impression that God had graced us with a very special blessing.
Two truths present themselves to my heart in this experience with Derrick. First, I do not know if he knows the Lord. There was never time for personal conversation. The young man was simply too busy for that. Derrick certainly acts as if trusts in the Lord Jesus, and I hope he does (and will pray for him accordingly). If so, our impression of him illustrates a truth intended by God to characterize all who believe, namely, that being a blessing to others begins with realizing our personal blessing. As the Lord told Abraham, "I will bless thee... and thou shalt be a blessing" (Genesis 12:2). Who among us can even begin to number the graces known throughout our lives? Over and over again, our Heavenly Father gives and gives and gives again from the treasure chest of His "unsearchable riches in Christ (Ephesians 3:8). Grace and mercy characterize every act of His generosity as He provides the abundance we do not deserve, and withholds the judgment we do deserve. Awareness of such Divine lovingkindness elicits in our hearts the thankful atmosphere that leads our blessedness to become blessing to others. "Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18). The blessed become blessers as we disseminate that which we receive. "God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (II Corinthians 9:8).
The Lord's quick answer to prayer in the train station also reminds me of His abundant generosity, especially when it concerns personal relationships with Him and with people. We will find such response frequently provided when our desire is to bless as we have been blessed. I genuinely desired to express appreciation to Derrick one final time before departing, likely never to see him again. I trust that the Lord formed this in my heart, which led to prayer and to the Lord's quick answer. This resulted in the final encounter with Derrick that may serve purposes I do not know. I am fully aware, however, of the blessing that resulted when God gave opportunity for a handshake and one more expression of appreciation.
As Frances says, "Life is about God and people. Everything else is just stuff." We discovered yet another evidence and confirmation of such truth on our train journey. Derrick will hold a place of prayer in our hearts, and I am confident that the Lord will no less readily and quickly answer our intercessions for the young man than He did yesterday in the train station. We were blessed by someone who certainly seems to realize how blessed he is, and by the One whose lovingkindness the hymnwriter so beautifully describes... "Out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again."
"Ask, and it shall be given you."
"As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."
(I Peter 4:10)
Weekly Memory Verse
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
(II Peter 1:20-21)