Jesus’ Cadillac

Posted: December 21, 2010 in Christmas, holiday, inspiration, Jesus, Joy, thomas smith

It was the week of Christmas and I was working at a little mom ‘n pop barbecue restaurant to make a little extra college money. Over the previous couple of months I had seen a little old man come in, sit at the same table and order the same thing: One half of a barbecue sandwich and a glass of water.  Normally I would be working in the kitchen but on this particular night we were short staffed, so I went out to wait tables.

And I got his.

He looked to be somewhere between 60 and 100. It was hard to tell. He wore a slightly rumpled suit and an old brown hat which he took off and placed on the chair beside him when he sat down. His hair was gray, swept back from his forehead, and almost reached his collar. His face was remarkable free of wrinkles. Just a few laugh lines.

After I took his order (the usual) and I said, “If you think the half a sandwich is good, you should try the whole one.” He chuckled and said, “It probably is, but can I get a whole one and a glass of water for only seventy five cents?”

I laughed and almost walked off. Almost.

“If you could have anything on the menu, what would it be?”

The little man looked off in the distance for a moment, smiled, and told me. A few minutes later I came back with a barbecue plate with slaw and string beans, hush puppies, sweet tea, a small bowl of Brunswick stew, and a dish of banana puddin’ (Hey … I’m southern. We never say pudding unless we’re trying to impress a girl’s mama).

“I’m not sure I can pay for all this,” he said when I brought the food out.

“Fortunately for you, then, you won’t have to. It’s on the house.”

An odd look crossed his face, and he asked a simple question. “Why?”

He received a simple answer. “Why not? Merry Christmas.”

He tore into the meal and when he finished, he looked about as content as anyone I have ever seen. When I asked if he wanted anything else, he rubbed his stomach and said, “There’s no room left in the inn.”

We laughed, wished each other a Merry Christmas again, and he headed for the door. As I started clearing the table, I saw something under the corner of his plate. I snatched it up and went out to find him. Just as I reached the parking lot, I saw him driving away … in a big gunboat Cadillac. He leaned out the window, waved, and said, “Thank you again. Merry Christmas.”

I waved, then looked at what I was holding in my hand.

Twenty bucks.

He never came back.

Did Jesus drive out to a little barbecue joint just to check up on his children?

I don’t know for a fact.

But I will always think so.

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