I was on break, sitting in the corner of the restaurant eating my dinner. The dining room was pretty empty – quiet, calm. I looked up to see a family walking in. Dad, Mom, and three boys. I chuckled to myself as they reminded me of ducks, all in height order. Dad, the tallest. Mom next, then the three others. All in a straight line.
They ordered their food, and sat down a few booths away from me, across the aisle. Two boys on one side, mom and another son on the other. Dad at the head of the table.
I saw another family glance at them, chuckling among themselves. I wasn’t. I was watching what they did next. All of them reverently took off their hats, closed their eyes, and thanked God for their food. The other family starting whispering again. I was convicted.
I totally forgot to thank God for my food! I thought to myself. Okay, well…I just flat out didn’t do it because I just didn’t feel like it.
The family concluded their prayer, returned their hats to their heads, and began eating. I really wanted to walk over and thank them right then and there for their example to me and to others in the restaurant. People may think it’s old and cliche to talk about being a witness by praying in public. I don’t think it is at all. Something was working in my heart right there, and the Holy Spirit was working through this family.
Fast forward to the night after. I’m driving home. The sun is setting, a faint moon can be made out in the blue sky. Music plays quietly the background with the faint sound of tires on the road. I was thinking about that family. What exactly was God trying to tell me? It couldn’t simply be “Tim, you didn’t ask a blessing over your food.” I knew it was much, much deeper than that.
It became pretty obvious to me as I saw that sunset in front of me and I drove towards home. I was ungrateful for what God had given me – I wasn’t thankful to God that I was driving a car I own, I wasn’t thankful for my job, my family, a home to return to, a church family, life, salvation, or the cross. I had been moping around worrying about finishing school, whining about having to work, and complaining about the situations I found myself in. The praying family stopped me dead in my tracks.
Thank goodness God is “kind to ungrateful and evil men.” I was acting just like those evil men described in 2 Timothy 3:2, the men who are “lovers of self…arrogant…ungrateful, unholy…[and] holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.” Paul tells us to “avoid such men as these.”
I should not act like these sinful men, but instead should give thanks to God for his infinite mercy to me first of all through the gospel. The truth of the cross does not allow for ungratefulness. Secondly, I must thank God for his grace through the Holy Spirit, shown to me daily. Last, I must thank God for common grace – life, sun, rain, oxygen, etc. With these things in mind I should never stop giving thanks to God.
So, it’s not that I broke some rule about praying before my meal. The issue is much deeper than that – things like that can quickly show us a much deeper problem in our lives. My prayer is that none of us will allow ourselves to overlook that truth.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever.