LUNCH IN A PAPER BAG
With this coming Monday being Veteran’s Day, and as a retired Army veteran, I couldn’t help but smile when I read this story. While I couldn’t empathize with all the circumstances in this particular story, I certainly could appreciate a freely offered gesture of appreciation by others for having served both in the USA and overseas. I thought you might like what happened in this story as well.
A minister told how he put his carry-on bag in the overhead luggage compartment and sat down in his assigned aisle seat. It was going to be a long flight home. He was glad he brought along a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short nap, he thought. He noticed a lot of empty seats around him. But just before take-off, ten soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats across the aisle and directly behind him.
After everyone got settled, he decided to start a conversation with a young soldier seated across the aisle from him. “Where are you headed?” he asked? “Great Lakes Air Base. We’ll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we’re being deployed to Iraq.”
After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached Chicago, so he quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time. As he reached for his wallet, he overheard a soldier behind him ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. “No, I’ll save my money for something else. Besides, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. It probably isn’t worth five bucks anyhow. I’ll wait till we get to Chicago. His friend agreed.
The minister knew this would be a long trip with one stop in between Miami and Chicago. He looked around at the other soldiers. None of them were buying either. So, he walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty-dollar bill. “Take a lunch to all those soldiers,” he whispered. She grabbed his arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. “My son served in Iraq; it’s almost like you are doing it for him.”
Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. She stopped at each row and told each soldier here is a complimentary lunch paid for by a grateful passenger, “Which would you like, beef or chicken?” They all shook their heads in disbelief as smiles spread across their faces. The minister took the chicken. As soon as she finished, she turned and went to the front of the plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class. “This is our thank you for your generosity, she said quietly.
After he finished eating, he went to the back of the plane, heading for the restroom. A man stopped him and said, “I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.” He handed me twenty-five dollars. The minister looked up and said, “Thank you, Lord, you knew I needed that fifty dollars for my meals up ahead. Soon after he returned to his seat, he saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking up at the aisle numbers as he walked, he hoped he stopped. Bending down, the Captain smiled, held out his hand, and said quietly, “I want to shake your hand.” With a booming voice, he said, ‘I was an Air Force pilot. Once, someone bought me lunch. It was an act of kindness I’ll never forget.
Later the minister decided to walk to the front of the plane and back so he could stretch his legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of him reached out wanting to shake his hand, he wasn’t sure why, but after he shook the man’s hand, he opened it to find a twenty-dollar bill in his palm. Again, he looked up and whispered, “Lord, You’re amazing! Now maybe I can buy a book I’ve been looking for in a used book store.
After they landed in Chicago, he gathered his belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside by the airplane exit door was a man who stopped him, reached over and put something in his shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-dollar bill! Now things were getting embarrassing. The Lord was filling his wallet with overflowing blessings.
Upon entering the terminal, he saw the soldiers gathering for their trip over to the base. He walked over to them and handed them seventy dollars. “You may have a long wait for the bus, so why don’t you get a bite to eat before you go, God Bless you for your service. Again, they shook their heads, they couldn’t believe what was happening.
These ten young men finally got on the bus to the base feeling loved and respected by their fellow travelers. The minister walked briskly to his car in the parking building. As he did, he whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for their country. he could only give them a couple of meals. To him, it seemed so little.
As I read this, a song sung by the Gaither Vocal Band came to mind, “Little Is Much When God Is in it.”
1. In the harvest field now ripened
2. In the mad rush of the broadway,
3. Does the place you’re called to labor
4. Are you laid aside from service,
5. When the conflict here is ended
Sometimes when we are motivated to do little things for others when no one will know about it, we may be reluctant to go through with it because being recognized for being kind is a reward. But never forget that God and His angels are watching and they are in charge of such blessings. When God looks at your heart and knows that you were generous out of love and kindness, looking for a smile as your only reward, He will find a way to bless you and you won’t even see it coming. – Dr. Robert R Seyda