The first time it happened, Reid had had a tough day at school. By the time I saw him at 2:30, he had already apologized, had consequences doled out, and thoroughly debriefed with his multi-layered school staff. If, as they say, it's not over til the fat lady sings, I figured that was my job.
We cranked the radio up and moved on. Ready for a change of scenery, Reid suggested going straight to Las Olas, our favorite Mexican place on the beach. I obliged. Fringe hours before the dinner rush are my favorite mercy. I hustled after him as he entered through the margarita bar to the host stand.
Then with elevated glee, Mr. Wickman!
There at the bar sat his classroom teacher, with what looked like the rest of the athletic department, having a pint.
How did he beat us here? I puzzled. Apparently, his day had been rough as well. We exchanged awkward niceties about the infraction.
Aw it was no big deal.
He is always the one who rolls with the punches and relieves my sheepishness.
Reid and I had a lovely time doing a word search on the kiddie menu. We wolfed down our refried beans and several baskets of chips at a table on the patio. A woman eating alone smiled in our general direction. I half wondered if she had a son like mine or where I'd seen her before.
When the waitress told me someone had picked up our tab, I was dumbfounded. The woman with the knowing smile was the one I might have thanked but she had already left.
Reid's tough days leave me feeling depleted...tired of hearing about the same failures, inadequate as a parent...helpless to bring about lasting change. Like a flashing amber arrow on the freeway, this unexpected diversion woke me to the reality that God has it covered.
The incident, the bill, our lives. His Son on the cross paid the price for our sins--big and small, continual and integral to our very nature. Our inability to measure up is as human as our need for another meal. He knows us; He made us. He loves us beyond reason. Which of course, is why He took care of it.
By contrast, today was a good day. Reid finished his laps at the YMCA. To celebrate we headed to Sammy's Woodfired Pizza. Why not? Jim wouldn't be home til late. Our timing was optimal again, sandwiched between the lunch and dinner crowds. Still, I surveyed the landscape of other patrons to avoid offending or being offended. Smiling preemptively goes a long way if something goes awry later, I have learned.
After this messy sundae, the waiter returned my debit card, Someone paid your check but I can't tell you who.
What? Who? Oh that is so nice. Why...?
I stammered looking around for hidden cameras and eyeballing neighboring tables. An Italian family of three generations? Two women slightly older than me? A teenager taking his little brother out? One of the waiters? No idea.
What possesses someone to do that? I never have...forty bucks is forty bucks.
I don't think we looked especially down-on-our-luck or needy.
Had they seen us taking selfies in the car?
Did they see Reid laying down between courses on the banquette and take pity on me?
Perhaps they recalled pouring sugar packets in their own water glass once?
Maybe when he picked the pepperoncinis out of the greek salad with his hands, they admired the kind and skillful way I inferred the desired action: Here's your fork.
Or did they just understand the amount of the practice that went into getting this even close to right?
My mind retraced the hour we had been there wondering what would have prompted such intentional generosity. Again, no idea.
I guess that's the point. It has nothing to do with us. God loves us that way--when we're dirty, silly, picking our noses, making bad choices, self-conscious. He's for us when we're good. He's for us when we're not. Our behaviors don't change His provision nor impact His forgiveness, healing, salvation, and deliverance, one iota.
We don't earn it. We don't see it coming. We don't ask for it. We definitely don't deserve it. We barely know how to say thank you.
Has this ever happened to you? Then you know the feeling. All you can do is receive.
While He was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came as guests to eat with Jesus and His disciples. Matthew 9:9-11
How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! Psalm 32:1-3
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21