When I’m with Kristen the world looks different. When I go places alone, I am invisible to the teenagers walking by, the toll booth operator merely says “75 cents please,” and the Indian woman at Dunkin’ Donuts is all business: “Small, medium, or large?” But if Kristen is with me, high school kids all over town walk up to us, she elicits life stories from PennDOT employees, and, as I learned yesterday, I am suddenly on the inside track at the doughnut shop.
In all the years I’ve been in town I never knew the Indian coffee server’s name was Rita (though a year ago I asked her to translate the name Kaajal into Sanskrit for me, which I don’t think she remembers). But when we walked up to the counter, Rita beamed in a way I never knew she could. (Kristen used to meet there to help Burmese refugee kids with their homework.)
Rita reached under the counter and pulled out two colorful sheets with coupons on them for selected merchandise. I was thrilled because I love the lattes but usually limit myself to about twice a year. The coupon gave me a medium for 99 cents.
There are a couple of ways of looking at this. You can cry “Favoritism!” and lament the corrupt state of contemporary society. Or you can cry “Favoritism!” and rejoice. I took the latter attitude yesterday and remembered a story in the Bible.
Jephthah was one of the judges of Israel in a time when the Ammonites were rattling their sabers, claiming that Israel had stolen their land back in the day when they came up from Egypt. Jephthah corrected the Ammonite king’s revisionist history: The truth is that Israel had politely asked permission of all those two-bit nations on the east side of the Jordan to pass through their land—and had been denied, and then attacked. With the help of God, they won those battles fair and square and naturally took the spoils of war. Jephthah concludes his defense:
“So then the LORD, the God of Israel, dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel. … Will you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? And all that the LORD our God has dispossessed before us, we will possess” (Judges 11:23-24).
Being with Kristen has its benefits. And infinitely more so being with God.