The Saga of Number Twenty-Four

Try for a moment to imagine this scenario: You stand in line at a fast-food joint for nearly thirty minutes waiting to place your order. Finally, you place your order, pay for it, and are issued a receipt. Then, instead of waiting for your food, you walk out the door and don’t come back.

Most of us are looking at that scene and wondering if anyone would really go through all that trouble, and then walk out without taking the food that they waited for. You may be shaking your head, wondering if there is really anyone in this world that’s dense enough to do something like this.

The unfortunate answer is “Yes.” I actually saw it happen last Saturday morning. Order #24 was ready, and the girl behind the counter called that number several times with no response. Soon, the guys in line were participating, calling out for number 24, checking the rest rooms, even announcing the number out in the parking lot. The owner of #24 was gone – totally, completely, nowhere-in-the-house GONE.

I found myself standing in line, wondering what had happened. Did someone simply forget their food? Perhaps his bus was leaving without him. Perhaps voices in his head told him not to eat the food (good advice, actually). The more I contemplated the situation, the less sense it made. Why in the world would someone wait in line to buy food, pay for it, and then leave?

Then it occurred to me that I have done the same sort of thing. How many times have I prayed for God’s provision, only to get restless, give up waiting, and move on. God may well have answered that request, but I wasn’t there to receive that provision. How many times have I sought God’s direction, but not waited for His response? Those moments weren’t much different that #24 leaving without his food.

In fact, the world is filled with #24s. God has provided for them the gift of salvation, and Jesus has paid the price of that gift in full. The gift is ready and waiting. God calls out their names, but they don’t respond. For those who do respond and accept that gift of Salvation, God provides more gifts – Spiritual gifts meant to empower us for service. Like #24, many are called but don’t respond. To make matters worse, many of these same folks whine and complain because God doesn’t provide or isn’t moving in their lives. Like #24, they’re off somewhere else, doing something else, when God is trying to move and provide. It’s just like our friend #24 griping and complaining because the restaurant didn’t give him any food. They tried, but he wasn’t there to receive it.

As I contemplated all this over my breakfast sandwich and hashbrowns, I resolved to take more seriously the Psalmist’s advice to “wait for the Lord.” I have a nasty habit of getting just a tiny bit ahead of Him sometimes, and I have to stop and let Him catch up. Sometimes, though, I find out that He was headed somewhere else, and I’m on my own. I’ve missed a lot of things that God wanted to do with me, all because I tried to lead Him, instead of following Him.

I’m tired of being #24, Lord. You take the lead, and I’ll follow You wherever You want to go.

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