McDonald’s and Growth

Most Saturday mornings I go on a date with God. I sneak out of my sleeping house with a cup of cereal to eat in the car and loaded like a pack mule with a miriad of books, notebooks, and my three inch thick study Bible. Yes, there is a Starbucks and McDonald’s on just about every corner, but I drive to my favorite McDonald’s, because the dining room is bright, the televisions are usually mute (although they are not mute this morning), and they have a cheap cup of hot dessert also known as a White Chocolate Mocha.
It’s been about six weeks that God and I have met at McDonald’s. Of course, I don’t “meet” God, as He is the One waking me up in the morning, reminding me not to forget my Bible, and driving me to the place of interest. However, it is at the McDonald’s table with free Wi-Fi connected, Pandora blaring in one ear, and a cheap cup of deliciousness that He and I begin to talk. He showers in me with Himself. I enter seeking and I leave filled. Without fail, because, of course, He is not capable of failing.
I’ve been here enough now to know a bit of who is a regular. First thing in the morning there are older men who speak to each other of mutual friends and travels and weather. This morning, one informed “us” that the high in South Dakota was to be twenty below zero. In Southern California it’s supposed to be mid-seventies and I am happily wearing my purple knit scarf from Syria and matching heavy cardigan.
About an hour later there are two groups of older Asian men and women. They sip loudly on coffee and eat chicken nuggets, which I find a strange combination for breakfast. In another hour the families will begin showing up and children will begin running in and out of the playroom. It’s about that time that my mind will shut down, incapable of thinking clearly or staying focused, and I will pack up my mobile office and go home.
It’s a place that’s beginning to feel like “mine”.
As you can imagine a woman loaded with nearly her whole library and a laptop brings some looks of curiousity. I do the same when I see a student at Starbuck’s. I always try to peak a sneak to see what they’re studying.
This morning was… different.
My favored booth was too close to the unusually loud television, so I chose a high table facing the window. Some feet away, in the large corner booth, slept a man. He slept soundly until seven when a worker woke him up. He was a clean-cut looking guy somewhere about my age. Once awake he sat up and rubbed his face until he was aware enough to ask someone for the time. I was the closest available and he smiled when he found out it was 7:15am. He was glad he had slept so soundly. It was hard to hear him over the television, but I did learn that he lived nearby with his girlfriend who had kicked him out at one o’clock this morning. She was ready to get her life together. She wanted a new apartment, a new car, a sober boyfriend. She wanted to go back to school. He could understand all that, but seemed quite content, possibly defeated, with his friend Alcohol. He continued telling me his story as he packed up his things and when he wasn’t looking I scrawled in my open journal, “I’m here, God.”
And I wonder what the Unseen looks like. I picture God sitting in the empty seat in front of me. But was He be turned towards this young wandering man as he told me his story? Or was God continuing to look at me? As I listened was God searching my heart and searching out these naive eyes of mine? And isn’t it amazing that God could continue sitting with me and yet walk out with this man at the same time?
An Asian man from one of the groups keeps passing for refills of coffee and visits to the trash can. Each time he passes he tries to get a glimps of what I’m doing. As I said, I have a stack of books with me, so I’m sure I’m an oddity.
Then, an older man approached me, told me I had beautiful hair, apologized for interrupting, and promptly left.
But as I drawled out slowly in my head, “Okay?” The answer came quickly. “Okay.” Could this McDonald’s be a date with God and, at the same time, become holy ground? A bunch of strangers. Could they become my prayer requests? For sobrity. For a knowingness of You. For a stronger, deeper relationship with You. Could I perhaps start searching out these people with smiles and a desire to know their names and a heart to know their stories all while sitting in my usual booth with my usual cup of sugar and my usual three-inch study Bible, because I sit with  very unusual companion, the Knowing God and Creator of all these customers?
This year my word is “Growth”. I want to grow in knowlege of God’s Word and I want to grow stronger in who God intended me to be. This is the year I am determined to throw off the old (wo)man of great insecurity and doubt and complaining. This is the year I will grow strong in faith and security and a mind for Christ.
And this odd morning at McDonald’s, with not much writing done, I grow in knowledge of my mission field.
The first family with children arrive and take the corner booth. Before digging into their pancakes and orange juice, they all clasp their hands in front of them, bow their heads, and the young man prays long. I smile, because they understand. We have never met and yet we know each other.

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