Dinner is on Me. It Really Is!!!


"So, friends, confirm God's invitation to you, his choice of you. Don't put it off; do it now. Do this, and you'll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:10-11 The Message)

"My choice is you, GOD, first and only. And now I find I'm your choice!" (Ps 16:5 The Message)

Choices. We are faced with them everyday. Some are good choices. These are the ones that make us feel that life is worthwhile. Others are bad choices, the ones we regret, especially if they hurt our loved ones.

One cannot go through life without making life-changing choices. Look at Adam and Eve. They had a choice to make: obey God or to listen to the insinuations of the evil one. It sounds pretty simple, actually; but was it more complex than we may think?

Last Saturday evening I was facing a myriad of choices. It started with a good choice: to surprise my family by taking them out for dinner. I could have opted for my own personal favorite: hamburgers la home, but instead I chose to take them to my kids' favorite restaurant.

My kids' excitement could hardly be contained once they heard about their good fortune; but when we arrived at our chosen destination, we couldn't help but notice that the parking lot was empty and the building was completely dark. Except for a few Christmas lights that is, but since it was already mid-January, this, in itself, was worrisome!

"Look guys!" I said, trying to sound cheerful. "We're early! We'll be the first ones served!" But it obviously wasn't meant to be. When my kids jumped out of the car and tried the door, we all knew it was an effort in futility. Especially when we saw the yellow piece of paper taped to the door: Due to an overabundance of competition, this restaurant was closed for an indefinite period of time.

Suddenly I found myself faced with more choices: We could go back home for hamburgers, or we could go to Taco Bell down the street, where at least we would be served quickly. Neither of these choices really demonstrated love, however. The first one was to satisfy myself, and the second one was too cheap. So we did the next best thing: We went to a restaurant that my wife and I had recently discovered. We had found it to be similar to the one my boys liked, both in price and menu, and though the boys had never eaten there, I was sure they would like it just as much.

As we neared the plaza where the restaurant was located, we noticed the parking lot was jammed with cars. Another decision had to be made, and I quickly encouraged my wife to jump out of the car (not while I was driving! I love my wife!) To reserve us a spot while I tried to find a parking place.

We were quite blessed to find one right next to the restaurant, but as I was parking, a truck started honking its horn. When I looked up, the driver was waving frantically, as if trying to get our attention.

"What now?" I muttered.

"Papa, Mom dropped her gloves on the road when she got out," my older son informed me.

Before I could say a word, both of my gallant knights jumped out of the car and ran to rescue their mother's winter gloves. As the parking lot was a literal frenzy of activity, I quickly jumped out myself. I wanted to make sure my boys stayed in one piece! I was relieved when they were already back with their mother's gloves by the time I had closed the car door. My relief was short lived however, for that's when I discovered that in my haste, I had left the engine running, the headlights on, and of course, the keys in the ignition. Quite naturally, I had NOT forgotten to lock the doors!

I now had another choice to make: Get upset and start yelling, or calmly say, "It's okay, we'll call CAA." (That's the Canadian version of AAA - No, not AA!) I have to confess that I started out with the first option, but it didn't take me long to realize that it was me I was really mad at. And since it's pretty hard to yell at yourself, I calmed down quickly enough. After all, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Even the one who is supposed to be driving the car!

When my wife returned, we learned that there was a 45 minute wait to be seated. Oh well, we weren't going anywhere anyway! And when we were told that we would have to wait 30 minutes for CAA, it didn't even upset me. Why not wait for two things at once?

Now there were more choices to make: We could wait inside where it was warm, or we could stay outside in the icy wind. For some strange reason we opted to stay outside. Maybe it had to do with the fact that the restaurant's lobby was packed with people, or maybe it had to do with the fact that we needed to be somewhere where we could watch for the CAA truck. It didn't take long for icicles to begin forming under our noses however, and we were once again faced with choices: We could try to keep warm by walking around the plaza, or we could continue to stand in one spot and freeze.

You can probably guess which one we chose. Although we've lived in Canada for 19 years, our blood is still of the Arizona type! Walking around the plaza brought about a new dilemma, however. Half of the time we couldn't see our car. What if CAA showed up and we weren't there?

After our first round of the plaza, I volunteered to stay by the car. Because freezing was still a concern however, and besides, I hadn't reached my daily goal of 10,000 steps yet, I decided to continue to walk back and forth, back and forth, in front of the restaurant. Or at least, this is what I did until I noticed that the people inside the restaurant were staring at me!

When CAA finally showed up and bailed us out of our dilemma, we were happy enough to enter that crowded warm lobby! We had no difficulty at all making that choice!

When my wife again asked about the wait time, we were told we had another 20 minutes. More time to kill. Since my personal pedometer, or whatever that little black box that counts my steps is called, revealed that I still hadn't reached my 10,000 steps for the day, I excused myself for the washroom, taking my oldest son with me. He could watch the door while I quickly "jogged" my remaining steps!

It was nearly 15 minutes before I reappeared. By this time my wife was dancing on the spot. "Are you okay?" She asked. "You've been gone forever!"

"Uh, I was relieving myself . . . Step-wise!" I lamely admitted.

I briefly saw her eyes begin to roll before her dancing turned into a jog and she disappeared in the direction of the women's room. I couldn't help but feel a little bit guilty, but I quickly pushed it aside. Maybe she was short some steps of reaching her goal as well!

We were finally seated, and the waitress took our order. Apparently there was some kind of a malfunction in the kitchen however, because it took them 50 minutes to bring us our appetizer, Nachos, dripping with melted cheese. Yum!

We "licked the platter clean" so to speak, in just a few minutes, but our wait wasn't over yet . People who were seated after us were served before us and I was beginning to wonder if I had made the waitress dizzy with my walking outside in the cold. I had the opportunity to make yet another choice: to complain, or to enjoy the company of my family and let my wife do the complaining! I opted for the later. Quite naturally, her complaining didn't do any good. We still had to wait!

When we were finally served, we were so tired of waiting that we even forfeited the opportunity to have desert. We had been at the restaurant for two hours and 35 minutes, and I was faced with another choice: Should I leave a penny for the waitress, or should I leave her a nice tip? I opted for leaving her 10% instead of the normal 15%, and knew it was a good choice when she didn't stick her foot out to trip me when I exited the building!

It is amazing how good you feel when you make the right choice and how lousy you feel when you make the wrong one. Whenever you choose to brighten someone's life, it's the right choice. Whenever your decision is made for selfish reasons, the results are always bitter.

Sooner or later we all have to make the choice of whether to follow God or not, and the results of this choice have eternal significance. Making no choice at all is still a choice, because no choice at all is a choice against God! I would hate for anyone to miss the boat and find themselves on the wrong side of the fence on Judgment Day!

I hope that your choices will be beneficial today. One tip though: Make sure to take your car keys OUT of the ignition when you shut and lock your car door. It may make your life somewhat more comfortable. Warmer anyway!

"But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Josh 24:15 NKJV)

Rob Chaffart

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