“I know Friendly’s is along here somewhere,” my husband insisted as he drove along a span of Route 72 in Lebanon…for the third time. He switched on his Garmin, adding it to the Sinatra channel playing on Sirius Radio and the traffic surrounding us on the darkening highway.
Gene doesn’t mind driving in over-stimulating chaos, though it disturbs me. A few years ago when he drove a van of mission trip teens to a NYC airport, he had two GPS units on display while chatting on his cell phone to his friend Steve who was driving the other van. I prayed a lot during that expedition.
Garmin Gal informed us, “You have reached your destination,” so Gene turned into a bank parking lot. No Friendly’s. He turned the car around again.
“We don’t have to eat at Friendly’s. We can eat anywhere,” I reminded him just before spotting the restaurant’s sign—NOT LIT UP—among a multitude of lighted signs. After one more U turn, we managed to enter the Friendly’s lot. He parked the car and we slowly crossed the dark space, hoping neither of us would fall on unseen ice and have to sue the owners for billions of bucks.
Once seated, Gene informed the hostess that neither their parking lot lights nor their sign was illuminated. She said she’d tell the manager and mumbled something about having trouble with a timer. We thought nothing would be done, so we were totally surprised to look out the window and see the sign come alive and the parking lot become safe. No lawsuits tonight.
Although no one thanked my husband for pointing out Friendly’s huge advertising blunder, he left the eatery feeling smug about the surge in customers.
As a Bible teacher (and somewhat obnoxious Christian) I couldn’t help but compare our experience to something Jesus said.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14 – 16, NIV
Friendly’s in Lebanon had a lot to offer—good meals and ice cream and good service—but without the huge sign shining above the dark highway, many diners would have gone elsewhere Friday night. Jesus has a lot to offer—eternal life for starters—but without churches and individual Christians shining, many seekers may look elsewhere.