Better Than a Fortune Cookie

chinese food
I love Chinese food. The thing is, it’s been hard finding a good Chinese restaurant since moving to rural Maryland.

So imagine my delight when I heard of a “so-so” restaurant to try. After a month without shrimp toast, “so-so” sounded good and so I stopped to pick up dinner.

The place was packed. A good sign I thought as I stood behind a woman with a young boy waiting to place my order. As my mouth watered with the idea of General Tso’s chicken, I couldn’t help but to overhear the woman’s conversation. She was talking on her phone asking the person on the other end what they wanted. At the same time the little boy kept shouting all of his requests. It was chaotic and I realized this wasn’t your typical “it’s-Friday-night-too-tired-to-cook” order. This meal was an event on the level of Thanksgiving dinner and I was intrigued by the excitement in their eyes. It’s just Chinese take out, I kept thinking. What’s the big deal? I soon got my answer.

“Don’t worry,” the woman said to the person on the phone. “I just won the scratch off lottery ticket!”

She looked incredibly thankful for the piddling windfall that allowed her this banquet.

It was my time to order. As I stepped forward and she stepped aside, I noticed her face spoke of not much sleep, her clothes told a story of not much care and her hands told the tale of too much hard work.

I realized then that even when my budget was tight I never had to scrimp for Chinese food nor could I imagine having to wait to win money to enjoy my favorite meal.

The woman and boy took their bag of food and headed out the door. I watched the eyes of those in line watching them. Some watched with disgust, while others watched with eyes similar to mine. Eyes that were opened to all the little things we take for granted.

“Lord, when did we ever see you hungry?” the disciples asked Jesus. Jesus replied, “When you have reached out to the least of these, you have reached out to me.”

The least I could have done was to pay for their “extravagant” meal. But I didn’t reach out.

“What’s wrong?” my husband asked as I picked at my fried rice later that night.

“A woman and a little boy opened my eyes tonight to how much need there is right here in our own backyard,” I said.

“Oh,” he said.

But there was more. There was that lingering question, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry?” That night I saw…and Chinese food will never be the same for me again.

While Donna Frischknecht Jackson misses good Chinese food, she is thankful for the lessons God keeps teaching her in her new call as pastor of West Nottingham Presbyterian in Colora, MD.

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