I steeled myself with prayer and loaded a Gospel of John into my back pocket while strapping my cellphone to the belt. As I straightened my back, I resolved to trust God or die. With the wind at my brow, I hunkered over to the Chinese fast food joint next to Hope Chapel.
It was time and I was ready to face him.
I swung the glass double doors open wide. Chong’s was completely empty. There might have been a scream but my pounding heart drowned out all noise.
And there, standing all alone behind the counter, staring me down was… Andy the manager…
Then up pops someone I’d never seen before; a new employee who was apparently tying her shoes as I walked in. And she was very deliberate and careful as she served up the smallest serving of chow mein ever!
Then something amazing happened. Andy walked around the counter and shook my hand!!! I asked him if I could give him something, a Gospel of John.
“Sure!” he replies. He takes it and puts it into his shirt pocket.
“I’d like you to read it, it’s what I’ve been talking to you about. By the way, my name is Steve and I’m a pastor at the church next door.”
“I will read it.” He walks back to the register.
“Hey, is the food free today?” I ask half-seriously.
“No. I won’t be able to pay my new employee.”
I complimented him on his Scooby-Doo tie.
“I’m a cartoon guy,” Andy says smiling.
The solemn-faced sandwich-barista ignored me as I waited with my kids, ready to place an order at Subway…I stood there with D.D. and Laurel Ann, wiggling my eyebrows, mouth agape, hoping she’d notice me with my two very active children in tow.
She didn’t. Or wouldn’t.
In fact, she popped out four trays of freshly baked bread, fiddled with something, did another thing and spoke to a co-worker while I bounced on my toes and opened my eyes real wide hoping to grab her attention. Apart from asking what type of sandwiches we wanted, she barely made eye contact.
Then a friendly girl rang up my order. She actually smiled. She was nice even.
So I asked, “Can I give you some good news today?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“Great. Here’s a Gospel of John. In this little sample of the Bible, you’ll find that Jesus died for your sins…”
I knocked over a metal bowl of mints and they scattered all over the ground. A little flustered, I stooped to pick them up, and over my shoulder said, “…was buried for three days…”
As my kids crammed a cup into the drink machine, they shouted,”Daddy! It’s not working!”
I picked up the last of the mints and said, “…and He rose again! What’s your name by the way?”
“Nay-oh-my-ee,” she answers.
“Nay-my-oh-mee?” She had a thick accent so I couldn’t tell what she was saying.
“No. Nay-oh-my,” she corrects. “It’s in the Bible.”
“Oh. Naomi! Yes, it’s in the book of…uh…book…uh…ahem…it’s somewhere in the Bible. Yes. It is a Bible name.”
I glance to my left and a customer has the biggest, grouchiest frown ever. She is clearly not amused by this repartee, the spilled mints, the kids, nothin’.
And neither am I.
I pay. Leave the restaurant. Load the children. Start the car. And then remember what book “Naomi” is in.