Unmerited Claudia

I was always taught that unmerited favor was called grace. But this week, I’ve learned to call her Claudia.

Claudia works in food services here at Lipscomb. More specifically, she operates the cash register at the downstairs food court in the student center. She’s an African American, I’m guessing in her 50’s, with a sweet smile and an even sweeter spirit. I first met Claudia a few weeks ago when I was here for Samuel. Toward the end of that week, she struck up a conversation with me one afternoon at the check out line. I’d walked over during our mid-afternoon break, desperate for a beverage to keep me awake for the stretch run of the day’s lecture. But I encountered a most refreshing individual when I approached Miss Claudia to pay for my drink.

“Son, you look awfully tired,” she said with a wink.

“Yeah,” I said. “Been sitting in class all day.”

“All day?” she asked incredulously. “What kind of class you have to take all day?”

I explained to her I was a graduate student in the Bible program.

“You a preacher?” she asked.

“Kind of,” I replied. I think that won her over.

“Oh, sugar, you just hang in there. You’re here doing the LORD’s work, and He ain’t gonna let you down. He’ll give you what you need.” Her head nodded furiously as she spoke with deep conviction.

I’m starting to like this lady, I thought. You don’t always get theology at the check out counter.

I thanked her for her kind words and asked her what I owed her.

“Oh, baby, you don’t have to pay for that drink. You take it and go on back to class.” Taken aback, I offered to pay again but again I was rebuffed. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth or eye or whatever, I thanked her and went on my way.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve developed something of a relationship with Miss Claudia. Granted, I’ll admit, I’ve saved quite a bit on my beverage budget since she came into my life. (It’s funny because I’ve been working on a term paper this week from 2 Samuel 24 where David, after Araunah offers him the oxen for the burnt offering, says, “I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” The irony of all this has not been lost on me.)

But it’s not just the bottomless fountain drinks that I’ve come to appreciate. I’m an introvert by nature, not prone to carrying on conversations with people I love, much less women at cash registers. But I’ve come to see Claudia for the gentle, nurturing spirit she is. Miss Claudia has become a part of the daily routine for Corey and me. In the morning, she’ll ask us about the previous day’s class. Yesterday, she asked us about our long term plans for ministry. We found out earlier in the week that Claudia is a vegetarian. She has grandkids. She is strong in her faith, one of those individuals with the ability to be conversational about her faith and her LORD without being showy. I don’t know why she’s so kind to us. Maybe she has a place in her heart for hungry looking seminary students. Maybe she thinks we’re related to a board member. I don’t know. But she’s reminded me of a simple truth: when I share my life with another, I open myself up to a joyous, grace-filled experience. Miss Claudia and I are about as different as two people can be, at least from a worldly perspective. But by the grace of our great God, we can celebrate that which we share in common: namely, Jesus Christ. I count her as a dear sweet sister. I don’t deserve to know her.

May He be good to you, Miss Claudia. I’m sure you put a smile on His face as surely as you put one on mine…

This entry was posted in Blessings, Devotional, Jesus, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Unmerited Claudia

  1. scott says:

    Great stuff, Jason. I wonder what I would experience if I would strike up conversations more regularly with people.I get a drink everyday from the gas station. I take my own cup to be refilled. More often than not, I get it for free. However, it is typically not out of grace or kindness that I get it that way. It’s more of a “I don’t want to be bothered ringing up this measly purchase.”I should try to engage them. Maybe there is a Claudia in Waco.

  2. Jason says:

    You and I are a lot alike, man. Find your Claudia. She’ll bless you.

  3. Corey Trevathan says:

    The thing that’s amazing about Claudia is how she wears her faith so well, & talks about God so effortlessly. I love that. And the free drinks. Being sociable can pay off, huh?

  4. Jason says:

    I might need to evaluate this introvert thing. Being extroverted has perks I didn’t even know about.Seriously, she challenges me. Imagine how many students here are blessed by her sincerity of spirit, her strong faith, her tender attitude.

  5. scott says:

    Slow down, Manny. Extroversion has perks, yes. But she is a harsh mistress, my man.

  6. Anonymous says:

    HELLO….you’ve been here all week and haven’t even said hi?! We are not friends anymore. Thus this, my 1st post on your blog…becomes my last. Too bad.BTW…Claudia does that for everyone who just gets a drink.-Lucy

  7. Jenna says:

    Miss Claudia sounds amazing! I love how God uses these special people by placing them in our paths just when we need them! I want to be a Claudia one day!

  8. Ed says:

    How about Heb 13:2 ?

  9. Jason says:

    Entertaining angels? Maybe. If nothing else, I’m just thankful to have met her. Hoping to continue to make myself available to opportunities like Claudia.

  10. Jason says:

    As an addendum to this post, Corey and I found out today that Miss Claudia had a slight heart attack Wednesday night. Sounds like she should be OK, but for those of you who’ve read about her on this page, please join me in lifting her up to our Father.

  11. Bren Hughes says:

    This is Bren Hughes, and I can verify that Jason’s report is factual and true. I was in his Samuel class, and Claudia gave me a free drink as well.This is the first time I’ve seen your blog, man. You should come visit mine, too.And you’re way ahead of me on the Samuel paper. It’s not due till April, right? I’m doing my pre-assignments for Intro To Ministry.God bless ya!

  12. Jason says:

    Bren,Thanks for dropping by, man. I appreciate your presence. I checked out your blog and I’ll definitely be stopping by for some reading as I have occasion. What’s the word on the Ph.D. programs you were applying to? Hope all is well, man.

  13. Jason says:

    And by the way, Bren, you’re right about the Samuel paper. Not due until April 7. Just trying to get a rough draft to him by the 10th of this month. You’ll have to let me know if you enjoy Intro to Ministry. I’m not really looking forward to taking it…guess after 7 years of full-time ministry work, I feel it’s a bit unnecessary.

  14. Bren Hughes says:

    I know what you mean about Intro To Ministry, Jason… I saved it for LAST. And it is my very last class.What I can say at this point is…It most certainly WILL be better than my ministry classes at my previous institution.AND, the third textbook, which I’m reading now, is William Willimon’s “Pastor,” and it is unbelievably good. I’ve gone through two highlighter pens on this book. Rich, rich, rich. It’s almost worth my $750 right there (?).BTW, I responded to your post over on my blog.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I don’t have time to read all your comments, so this might be there already, but . . .”An” african-american.Is african-american what she is, or what she is one of?As an african american, I would prefer being called “african american”. It is what I am, not what I am one of.

  16. Jason says:

    Anonymous,It was definitely not my intent to offend in my description of sweet Miss Claudia. I certainly would never want to label some one as “one of” anything. I value people as unique image-bearers of God. I long for the consummation of His Kingdom, a Kingdom where monikers like “slave or free, Jew or Gentile” are no longer valid. Let me assure you that I would never want to say anything to put down or belittle another individual. Honestly, I don’t know any other way to communicate that Miss Claudia IS African-American. Please don’t read anything into my use of the article “an”. Thank you for voicing your opinion, though. Feel free to stop by anytime.

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