I am dancing for Joy this morning! My heart is flipping and flopping and having a party inside of me today. It's boogying...singing..rejoicing..laughing..yeah..I Do get that excited ! That is really how I feel at this moment.
Do you want to know why? : ) Well here's the story...
When we first opened the Tavern (about 7 months ago) we hired a new crew! One of the young men we hired to cook for us is named Joe. Joe is from New Castle. I believe his is 20 years old. He was a rough kind of kid...swearing..talking about drinking and partying alot..and women....oh my..he had lots of stories to tell about women. His parents are divorced. Joe lived with his Dad in Las Vegas for a while, and his mom in New Castle some of the time. I could tell right away that Joe was a sweet kid. He has a heart of gold. He'd always ask if I needed help, he'd carry things in for me, when I'd ask him to stop swearing, he did. He was very respectful of me, which I appreciate very much in an employee.
Within the first week of hiring Joe, I knew that God wanted Joe. I knew that JOe was something special and God was going to use Joe to do things for him. I can't expain it, except to say that I knew God wanted Joe.
God is such a huge part of my life, so of course He gets talked about often at work. So I asked Joe, "Do you believe in God?" He said that he was Agnostic, and I don't know if he really knew what that meant, but he said He didn't believe in just one God. I said, "Oh man..that's too bad, because Joe, I really think God wants you."
(I know..it was a bold thing to say, but I knew it was true, and it just felt right for me to say it.)
I can't remember what Joe said..it wasn't anything disrespectful...but something funny..like, "Everybody wants me Sue." That's Joe : )
He's really funny too!
So..days go by and I'm starting to really like this kid. He's so sweet. I'm still feeling the pull...I know it in my heart, God wants him.
A few days later..Joe asked me a few questions. I answered them and then I said Joe, I really want to see you in heaven with me. I like you alot, and I care about you. I want you to go to heaven when I go. I want you to be there with me.
That same day, Joe's mom called at the Tavern and asked to talk to me.
Me? I didn't know Joe's mom. I had never met her.
I answered the phone,"hello?" She told me that Joe really, really liked and respected me. She said that she had some bad news to tell Joe and she needed me to support him until her husband (Joe's step dad) could get there to pick him up.
Joe's dad had a heart attack and was on life support and going to die. Someone found him in his apartment in Las Vegas and it was too late to save him.
She told me that her husband would be there in 20 minutes to pick Joe up and tell him the news.
Oh..my heart hurt so badly. It was so heavy, I felt as though I couldn't carry it. Oh no. I loved little Joe. I didn't want to see him hurt. He loved his dad so much. He talked about him all of the time. He missed him. Oh no..
It was a horrible 20 minutes.
Joe's stepdad came. I told Joe that he was here and Joe immediately looked scared.
His stepdad took him out back and I heard one of those screams that you pray you never have to hear. Those wild animal, gutteral, hurting screams. Oh, it hurt so deeply. Joe came in with a face full of tears and pain and I sat him down on the steps and we just cried together. I held him and he cried and cried and shook and I just kept rubbing his head and telling him that it would be okay. I promised him that it would be okay. I told him to go and be with his mom and sisters, and just take one step at a time, because truly, having been through it, that's all you can do. Just take one step, just get through the next minute, the next hour, the next day. You just think about the next thing..you only see what's now, what's right in front of you.. that's how you cope. You do what you have to do next. You go through motions..you just..do it. Right? Is that your experience too? That was mine.
So Joe flew to Vegas, and he said goodbye to his dad and buried him. Having lost my dad too, I know how painful it is.
Joe came back a week later, and he started working again. We started talking again. Not much though... just little things.
Along came Megan and Mandy. Megan and Mandy are two young Christian girls that we hired for the summer. Megan and Mandy are two ADORABLE young women. I told them how I felt God wanted Joe to accept Christ as His Savior and they felt the same way. So they started telling Joe little Bible stories everday. The kind of stories you'd tell small children..you know...Jonah and the Whale, Noah and the Ark, Daniel and the Lion's Den etc.. and He loved them! It was so cute...the girls would go home at night and find a story to tell Joe and Joe would come to work and say.."hey, what's my story today!?" I loved it!!
Megan bought Joe a Bible and a devotions book That was AMAZING to me! Way to Go Megan! She thought Joe should have them.
Mandy invited Joe to go to church with her. Guess what? He went! We couldn't believe it. He's not from the same kind of background as Mandy..he never had been to a non catholic church before. Ha ha!! He went!!!!!!! WOOOOOHOOOOOO!!! Isn't that awesome.?!!! Way to Go Mandy!!!
But guess what? That's not the end of the story. No..it's not.
Yesterday (August 23rd) we had a Tavern picnic! It was the end of summer back to school picnic for our team! We love getting together and having fun. Yesterday, we were all sitting around the campfire and Joe came up to me and said, out loud in front of everyone.. "Sue, I got saved today. I'm a Christian."
HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I nearly fell of my chair. I jumped up! I hugged him. HA!!! I wanted to dance with him!! Oh Joe.. Oh...YES!! Oh Joe, I AM going to see you in heaven now!! I knew God wanted you!! I knew it!!! He said, "I know."
He was so happy and filled with Joy. Oh Joe..Oh Lord...Oh my Lord and Savior, who is now Joe's Lord and Savior... Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. For all you do, all you give, all of your amazing and never ending love. Oh, How I love you.
Joe.. my sweet baby Joe.. Welcome to the Kingdom of God! The angels through a party yesterday in honor of you!
That is why I am here at this restaurant. Yes..we love to cook and serve good food. We love to bring a good restaurant to the community for others to enjoy. But my heart... where it truly is..is to share the Love of Jesus Christ with everyone I can. It's like knowing a secret and wanting everybody else to get to know the secret to amazing joy too.
That's now the contentment that I feel after sharing this story and just sitting here with my computer on my lap, praising and Thanking God for just being God..nothing more today..for who He is. I love Him so much.
Oh, I really do!