Earlier this week my wife and two friends had lunch at one of Crestview's downtown restaurants. After enjoying their meal they went to the cashier to pay.
As they were getting their payment ready, a gentleman walked up and placed a large amount of money on the counter. The cashier simply said to him, "How many?" and he replied, "Three."
And just like that he paid for the meals of my wife and friends. They were a bit stunned. They did not know him, and he did not know them. They talked briefly, expressed their thanks and extreme gratitude for this gentleman's generosity, and went their separate ways.
Several thoughts went through my mind when my wife related this story to me.
First, it seemed obvious to me this was not the first time the gentleman paid for someone's meal. The cashier's question, "How many?" led me to believe he had previously informed the cashier of his intent to do this. How many meals he previously paid for I have no idea, but I wonder if his generosity had the same impact on others as it did for those three women that day.
Another thought was the quiet witness of kindness and generosity this gentleman displayed. There was no fanfare or "look at me" demeanor. It was simply a generous gesture of thoughtfulness.
A third thought was a reminiscence of the movie "Pay It Forward" back in 2000, a movie based on acts of a 12-year-old boy's goodwill. The intent of paying it forward was, instead of repaying someone for their kindness, that an act of kindness or generosity be done for another person, who would then do the same for another, and so on.
The gentleman in the restaurant may never know the impact he has had on those for whom he has bought lunches. But I would like him to know he left an indelible impression on three women and this pastor.
Sir, I thank you for being a living example of a teaching by Jesus: "Do to others as you would have others do to you."
I thank you for exemplifying what is says in the letter of James, "Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."
My challenge to you, dear readers, is to find a way that you, too, can do a similar act of kindness in the name of Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.