Most Saturday mornings you can find me at a little cafe in Branson called CLOCKERS. It’s a small downtown, neighborhood establishment where you’ll find a healthy mix of locals and tourists and during the weekends and holidays, it’s typically filled to capacity with the smell of home cooking and loud chatter. There’s usually a group of five gals enjoying good conversation and with shopping on the mind, or a young couple on their first breakfast date, families with children, or military veterans with their wives. This is a popular place. During the tourist season, there’s usually a line outside with folks just waiting to get a seat.
Last Saturday I arrived later than usual and stood with about fifteen people waiting for a seat. I have to admit one of reasons I like CLOCKERS is, how can I say this . . . I’m a “frequent flyer.” No, there’s no “first class” section, but it does afford the privilege of walking into the kitchen, saying “Good morning!” to the help, and helping myself to a fresh cup of coffee while I wait. So, on that particular morning I grabbed a cup of coffee and waited my turn. I didn’t wait long as an older gentleman waved his hand and invited me to join him. So, I did. He was a stranger; we’d never met before.
I thanked him for his hospitality, we traded names, sat down and jumped into typical “guy talk.” (Guy talk simply means “Tell me your name,” “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” plus some weather and sports thrown in for good measure.)
“Oscar” had been in construction. His specialty? Water towers. His work required him to be away from home, sometimes for long periods of time. After years of sacrifice and hard work, Oscar retired and he and his wife moved to Branson.
The waitress kept pouring coffee so we kept on talking. Finally, I said, “Oscar, if you don’t mind, tell me about your wife.” There was a long pause, he stared into his coffee cup and shifted in his seat. He whispered, “We were married 40+ years, but . . . she died this past October.” There was a longer pause. “Oscar, can you tell me about her?” With a gentle voice and the greatest of care he told how they first met, her character, their family, and the joy of their relationship. I just listened and nodded. It was a beautiful story of love.
Our breakfast ended, we shook hands. I closed with, “Oscar, I’m glad I got to meet you. I’m going to be praying for you, sir.” He nodded and went on our way.
A pastor once said (and I paraphrase), “I’ve sat in restaurants and attended churches, and if given the choice, sometimes I probably would have joined the restaurant before I joined the church.” Why would he say that? I think it’s because we tend to be better neighbors in smaller, more intimate settings. Fellowship, I want to encourage you to find your neighbor – it may be a life group, prayer group, or a men’s or women’s group. It may be next door or even a café. Find that neighborhood where you can exercise God-given spiritual influence and where God can use others to speak into your soul. I know one thing for sure. “Oscar” will be there.
Have a great week, Fellowship. You are the beautiful Bride of Jesus!