God Encounters at Waffle House

I enjoy Waffle House! Although I’ve eaten there for years, I got into the habit of going to a particular location near my doctor’s office. I eventually started going weekly and sat at the high counter where a waitress who went by Ms. Pat often served me.

I once felt impressed to ask her if she needed prayer for anything. Over the years, I’d be praying for various family member’s health to improve, mainly her mom’s and dad’s.

One day I was told I missed an eventful morning where a local prostitute had given birth in the parking lot. Ms. Pat’s, daughter (God-daughter, but there was no delineation in her mind), was present that morning and accompanied the mother and child to the hospital. When the mom refused rights to her baby boy, Ms. Pat’s daughter, Stephanie, stepped up and said she wanted to adopt him! Several weeks later it was legally settled. David is a cute kid and is thriving in his new family!

A few years ago on a Wednesday in July, I was on my way to work from when I lived in The Village. My usual route was down I-44 and East on I-40 toward downtown. Once I was on I-40, a thought entered my mind that I should go to Waffle House for breakfast. While I loved going, I argued in my mind that I needed to get to work but the prompt to go to Waffle House won. Once that was settled, another thought came in, “I’d like to get Ms. Pat a gift. Something extravagant!” I honestly didn’t know from where that came! I knew Ms. Pat loved dressing up and going out. She often wore false eyelashes. I began pondering if I could find a way to get her some of those my friend Heidi applies, lash on lash, but those are super expensive…and way too extravagant for a customer to get her! Just before arriving to the restaurant, I teased the thought that I’d been planning a birthday present that would have to wait 10 months to give.

This day, the restaurant was particularly busy and it was difficult for me to say more than hello to Ms. Pat. At a slower moment, I asked if she had any prayer requests. Her reply was nothing today. I pondered why I felt prompted to even show up if there would be no prayer request. After the restaurant was much quieter and emptier, Ms. Pat called out to a customer sitting at the far end and asked if he was going to be back at the restaurant on Friday. He asked why and she replied, “It’s my birthday!”

What?!! My heart jumped in astonishment! God had totally set this up!

I knew had a mission to accomplish. Bartering with my lashes friend, I secured a lash extension gift certificate and a complementary hot stone foot massage. I was also able to buy a sale-priced Jesus Calling devotional. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I penned a message of how God sees Ms. Pat in her soul (and made sure she knew I didn’t have my own eyes set upon her).

I walked in the store with my gifts in hand and she was stunned to the core! She wept and came around and gave me a big hug. I was humbled by what God had me do for her. I was also concerned by how this gift would appear in her and in her coworker’s eyes.

At some point in our friendship, we became Facebook friends. We didn’t relate often via the platform but one day I noticed a family member expressing thankfulness that Ms. Pat was joining them to church. I wondered if anything I had said or done helped this movement along.

A couple years ago, Ms. Pat fell ill with cancer and in July 2018, just a few weeks before her birthday, she passed away. Just 2 days before, I was able to find her and was invited by her son to come see her at the hospital. On the day of her passing, I made a promise to myself that my mission in going would be to pray with her. Once there, I was overwhelmed by the number of people in her room. It was standing room only! And honestly, I felt a little shy as I was the only white person in their midst but I pressed through.

The nurse needed everyone to leave the room and so I sat with friends and family in awkward silence for quite a while and then decided to leave. Walking through the corridor, the Holy Spirit urged me to fulfill my mission and pray with Ms. Pat. This meant I had to press through my shyness once again and push to speak up about my intentions. Instead of going to the waiting room, I stood outside her door. Her daughter LaTonya invited me in and inquired how I knew her. I briefly explained how God had me praying for and with Ms. Pat over the years. Upon hearing this, LaTonya raised her voice and declared to the room that I was here to pray for their mom and to gather ’round and agree in prayer. We stood in a circle, holding hands and I prayed what felt like my most vulnerable deathbed prayer. I reminded Ms. Pat of the message God had me deliver to her on her birthday and asked if she remembered, to which she nodded yes. I wept tears of joy because I didn’t know her family was receptive to God at all and because God had made a way for me to be there in that moment.

At her funeral, I was overwhelmed, not by the loss of an acquaintance but by the richness of worshipfulness present in the church she had been attending. In that service, I learned that she wasn’t a churchgoer until her later years. I also learned how loving and giving she was; she sacrificed much for her kids and God helped them overcome the pitfalls of living through rough circumstances. I learned how Godly her son, daughter and family members are. God surrounded Ms. Pat with so many strong believers and eventually, she joined them in surrender and in worship of God her Creator!

Ms Pat and Joseph Thiessen

There’s so much I don’t know about her and many things which might tarnish my view of her; however, I know that God placed me in her life in a significant way and I’m deeply humbled by the remembrance of it.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.  I Corinthians 3:6-11

Published by Joseph Thiessen

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