Several years ago, I traveled much of Kentucky and West Virginia representing an automobile warranty company. I had few complaints about the work and the pay was reasonable. Through the course of my duties, I came to know some interesting people including a pistol-packing used car salesman (did I mention he was blind?) and a Christian retailer who sold tires and Bibles from the same location.
I made it home most evenings, but scheduling dictated an occasional over-nighter in West Virginia. As a homebody, I missed my wife, my daughter, and home cooking, but what I truly dreaded was the official interrogation that followed each trip. According to the company handbook, employees were to be reimbursed for all reasonable expenses incurred during business travel, but one man's reasonable was another man's extravagance. The home office cross-examination usually included such questioning as, "Was that order of onion rings with the fish sandwich really necessary?" We had some wonderfully frugal people in our accounting department.
One evening in Huntington, my tuna melt was delivered by a very talkative and very pregnant young server. "Can you believe that?" she indignantly asked. "I just served a party of twelve and they stiffed me! They didn't leave so much as a nickel tip! I worked hard keeping their glasses filled and their table cleared and this is the thanks that I get!"
I nodded sympathetically. "Does this happen often?"
"I try giving my customers good service, but there are a few who don't appreciate my hard work. As you can see, I have a baby on the way and babies aren't cheap, you know! I need every dollar I can lay my hands on!"
"I promise not to stiff you," I said.
"Thanks!" Drawing a plastic soda straw from her apron, she continued, "You'll never believe what happened last year! A very nice lady left me a twenty dollar tip! Twenty dollars! Can you believe that! It was the biggest tip I ever received and you can bet I'll never forget her as long as I live! Oh, well! Let me know if you need a refill on your drink!"
As I ate my tuna melt, I considered the fortunate lady who had left the twenty dollar tip. Quite likely, she had no idea that her twenty dollars had forever secured such an esteemed place in the lofty regions of this young girl's fondest memories. Imagine reach near immortal status for a mere twenty bucks! What a bargain! Table to table and patron to patron, her legendary generosity would be retold a thousand times over.
But why should Madam Customer enjoy such grand remuneration for so little a price? A coup was in the making. I folded the napkin and totaled the bill. One tuna melt and one large diet soda for eight bucks. A chance at immortality was at stake. I began counting out the bills from my wallet. A grand coup indeed! Eight dollars for a tuna melt and twenty five dollars for the supreme gratuity! Twenty-five dollars to be remembered! Twenty-five dollars to be crowned King of the Hill! The Queen is dead! Long live the King!
The rejoicing of the happy waitress followed me to the door; I shamefully admit to having felt rather happy and expansive throughout the remainder of the evening. It was good being appreciated and I secretly delighted in thinking how the story of my generosity would be passed down from diner to diner in the years to come.
But there is a bigger point to all this. If even the most humble among us were able to total the value of God's daily blessings, the sum would be astronomical, yet we often go about stiff, reserved, and detached as if we were actually deserving of all His lavish blessings! One might almost think we were entitled to His bounty by the proud way in which it is usually received.
If thanksgiving is the cousin of faith, then ingratitude must surely be the ugly stepmother of unbelief. A dog does not know to pray over his food dish, but in the very least, he wags his tail in appreciation. An unbeliever does neither.
Dr. Michael Blunk is a staff writer for an apologetics ministry and serves full time as a chaplain with Wayside Christian Mission. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org