Often, in our hustle and bustle world, we tend to lose sight of hope for humanity. A lived faith, however, both can and always shall be a great sign of hope for all to see. We perceive it in the peace and joy of those who live it around us.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror (Jm 1:23).
Signaling that the first full day of summer has arrived in the Deep South of the United States of America, a damp heavy heat beats against the man’s chest when he exits his freshly cleaned, pearl white pickup truck. Added to the weight of the heat are the distractions at home. For the first time in 28 years, the man is home alone for a few nights. All the children are away at school or on summer retreat, while his wife cares for her mother during post-surgery recovery. The man does not care for the loneliness one bit as it weighs heavily on his mind. He much prefers the constant motion that exists in the active household of a large family.
Moving through the blistering heat that rises up from the deep black asphalt, the man stops at a fast food joint for lunch in Lake Charles, Louisiana, while on the road for work purposes. Unlike many fast food places he had visited throughout the years, he likes this particular joint because the people are friendly and the inside is immaculately clean. The doors open as a smiling older gentleman makes way for him to enter.
The welcoming aroma of freshly fried chicken, buttered biscuits, and French fries fills the air. The man knows this would not normally be on the menu for him, but this day he needs some comfort food. At the counter, he is greeted by a tall, broad-shouldered young man with a name tattooed on the nape of his neck.
Smiling, the latter asks, “Can I get your order?”
“Yes,” the man replies. “I would like a two-piece, spicy, dark meat, with green beans and a drink.”
The young man asks in return, “Would you like our banana pudding parfait with that?”
Smiling, the man responds, “You know I really would, but I’m going to pass this time.”
“That’ll be $6.07,” comes back the young man.
An older heavy-set woman behind the counter readies the order in less that two minutes. Then she calls out his order and places it on the counter.
The man comments, “Man, that was quick! Thank you.”
Looking away rather shyly, the woman responds, “Umm, you’re welcome,” then starts walking away.
It is obvious that she had been caught off guard by the man’s friendliness toward her.
Picking up the orange tray with his lunch on it, the man finds a quiet seat in a corner of the restaurant. He prefers to sit and observe people, while eating and getting work done on his tablet. Bowing his head, the man quietly blesses the meal: Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts. God must have known that, this day, he needed some signs of hope for humanity because over the next 15 minutes, the man is given simple, but ever-true, signs of hope without fail – hope found in the love of a father and a son, and in the love of a husband and a wife, both demonstrated by their outward love of God.
In the opposite corner of the eatery sits a tall strong-looking man of at least 6′ 2″, having a quiet lunch with his gangly teenaged son. They start their meal with a prayer, blessing the food in front of them and thanking God for the meal. After seeing the pair praying together before eating, the man can easily observe the joyful peace they spend in each other’s presence. They talk and share with each other that simple father-and-son small talk so vital in the raising of young men, in a world that wants to carry the children, adolescents, and young adults of today off into nothing more than decadence and despair. A sense of hope rises up in the man as he thanks God for the opportunity to have witnessed the love of this father for his son and of the son for his father.
Not long after the man returns his focus to his own meal and business emails, another simple sign of hope jumps out for all willing souls to observe. Over the top of his reading glasses, the man sees an attractive, professionally-dressed middle-aged woman take the table directly next to himself as she calls out to her husband.
“Honey, I’m over here by the window.”
The husband – a tall, lean, dark complected man – responds with a warm tone that signals a supernatural confidence in his love for her.
“Thank you, I’ll bring your food,” he says.
And as the husband, indeed, takes the food that had been ordered to his wife, the man notices something in the husband’s demeanor that signals a certain strength of character. Perhaps it is the determination of his gait or the warmth of his smile, but the husband exudes peaceful confidence. Dividing the food among the two of them, the husband then takes his place at the table across from his wife. Without having to ask, the couple spontaneously reach across the table, join both hands and bow their heads as the husband blesses the food.
“Dear Lord, we thank You for this food today and all that You’ve given us,” he can be heard saying.
The man, once again, can observe a joyful couple as they too, like the father and the son, share in simple small talk. This time of sharing helps bring the husband and the wife together as one in their marriage.
How beautiful and simple it is to demonstrate love for one another! the man thinks to himself. He knows that he must do better in the future. He knows that if he is to be a beacon of hope for God the Father, he must also be a simple light of love, for love of God and of each other is the sure foundation of hope.
God is good.
Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father (Mt 5:16).