Monday, September 19, 2011

Eating Out #4- Intentionally

I've been writing about ways we can seek God's glory intentionally as we eat out. Feel free to go back and read the rest of the series. I mentioned thinking about daily life intentionally in Post 1, pouring into family while eating out in Post 2, and eating within a budget in Post 3.

This last post is the part of our eating out that we love the most: pouring into others. We love good food. But the food is only one part of our experience eating out. Our favorite part is building relationships where we can encourage others in Christ. Eating together is a great opportunity to build relationships with people and eating out has given us relationships with restaurant owners/ employees that we met because we love their restaurant.

We have grown in so many relationships with people by eating together regularly. Eating together after church became a regular habit in a group of friends we had when we were first married and it was such wonderful weekly fellowship. Once our group slowed down meeting regularly, we saw a great friendship developed with a couple from our church whose children and grandchildren lived far away. Our family lived far as well, and we began going out to eat on Sundays after church. It felt like time with family and we grew so close to them. It was a sweet blessing to experience God building that friendship.

Visiting our sweet friends at OC Surf Cafe on a trip home
But building relationships hasn't just been through going together with friends. We have seen new friendships grow with owners and employees at our favorite restaurants. Eating at the same places means getting to know and do life with the people who work there/own the restaurant and others who come regularly to eat there. We ate lunch weekly at a an inexpensive pizza place we loved near our old home and once a month at our favorite diner and favorite italian restaurant. Because we spent so much time in these restaurants, we began to know the owners and employees deeper and they knew us. Over time, we shared births, deaths, holiday traditions, and our faith and hope in Jesus on a regular basis in a natural way with these new friends.

One of the most powerful memories I have is when our favorite waitress shared openly about her trials and struggles with her mom who had recently died. It was such a dark and hard time for her and we grieved, cried, and prayed with her often. She became so dear to us as she let us walk through her grief with her. It is an honor and a bond that came when God planted us at that pizza place. 

We've enjoyed other relationships, like encouraging a friend as she became full time owner of one of our favorite lunch stops and bonding with others who ate at the same places and also sought to pour Christ into the very same people who had become so dear to us. We have learned about other countries as we've asked some of our friends at the international restaurants we now frequent about their cultures and history.

Even our kids pour into others often through their lives and openness towards others. Once, in our pizza place, Jimmy got to share about hope in Jesus with a waitress we loved through a bracelet he wore. Many encouraged us as we struggled to conceive a second child and rejoiced with us when God gifted us with our second child years later. We shared how his name reminded us of God's faithfulness to His children and it provided such a neat opportunity to praise God naturally in conversation as they went through life together with us. 

My prayer throughout this series has been that my heart for Christ would shine through. It is not meant to debate the merits and pitfalls of eating out, but to show that every part of our daily lives is an opportunity to seek God's glory. Eating out is part of our family's daily life and we take that honor seriously. Truly, we get an opportunity to do life with our restaurant friends as God provides them through our regular eating out habits. God has provided amazing relationships and opportunities to pour His love into others through dining out. It's a privilege and a joy to step out in faith and eat out with intentionality.

I'm praying this series might prompt you to think about some of the daily life activities God placed you in. and not just the obvious job and school but also the restaurants you eat in, sports teams, story hour at the library, your kid's favorite playground, your neighborhood, etc. Examine them, and ask God to guide you as you step out intentionally towards others in love to His glory.

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