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52 Godly Men : Men of Today Teaching the Men of Tomorrow » Uncategorized » Panera’s Box: A Restaurant of Surprises

Panera’s Box: A Restaurant of Surprises

To understand the following story, you have to understand that I play guitar. A lot. I love guitar like Jordan loves basketball, or like Captain America loves the stars and stripes. But the guitar that I’d had for the past five-odd years was starting to look like an eight-track tape player; old and dysfunctional. So I had been searching for a new guitar for quite some time, although none ever quite seemed to fit. That was until right before my birthday, when I spotted the guitar of my dreams in a local music store, screaming, “Play me, David! Hold me close!” It not only stayed in tune and sounded nice and rich, but it looked almost too beautiful for words, sitting there shining in the imagined moonlight streaming from my brain. It came with a hard case, a whammy bar (that thing that makes guitars go wo-wo-wo-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa), and the only thing it was lacking was the dozen or so dents and chips that my current guitar had. Best of all, it was a fraction of the original price. I was so happy!

Then Monday rolled around. I had most of the money at hand, I was ready to buy, and I called the store, not even questioning the fact that  it was still there (most of you are way ahead of me here). It wasn’t there. They sold it. In one sentence, “Yeah, I sold that one, sorry,” my dreams came crashing down to earth. I didn’t cry, or scream, or do any substantial property damage to any buildings, but I felt awful. For the rest of the day, I sat around, watching the U.S. curling team lose repeatedly, and asking myself what went wrong, whose fault it was, and what to do now. I managed to forget my troubles in the huge snow we had on Tuesday and Wednesday, but truthfully, I was still really bummed.

Wednesday afternoon, dad told me to come with him while he was running around town getting groceries and such. We stopped by several stores, and then dad asked me if I would like some hot chocolate from Panera. I agreed, and read my book in the car while he went inside to make sure Panera was open. This should have been my first tip that not everything was as it seemed. I mean, since when do you have to walk inside the restaurant to see if it’s open? It was a really good book, though, and I was too into it to notice.

We went inside and got up to the counter, and dad ordered a hot chocolate. I then ordered the same, and the cashier asked me “do you want a guitar with that?” It was a strange request, and I said, “what?” because I must have heard wrong. Dad looked at me and repeated, “do you want a guitar with that?” Then, before my unbelieving eyes, the cashier pulled out a four foot-long electric guitar case from behind the counter. At Panera. Psych!

I was stunned, and grinning, and thanking dad over and over, and thanking the nice lady and gentleman for getting in on the joke. I showed them the guitar, and we got a photo with the cashier, me, the manager, and my guitar. And yes, it was the same guitar that I saw in the store almost a week ago. Dad and I got our hot chocolates and talked about what had just happened. He said, “I wanted you to feel the loss you felt when you found out that the guitar had been sold and the disappointment of the next few days. That way, you would be all the more happy and stunned when you received it several days later. Sometimes, God doesn’t give us what we want right away and seems to close doors in our face. I have felt that disappointment many times. But I wanted to show you that just because it seems like it’s over doesn’t always mean that it’s over, especially when God is involved.” Then, we enjoyed our hot chocolate and a couple of pastries that the manager brought out for us on the house. Sweet!

Preach it. Since that day, I have played that guitar almost every day. It is everything I thought it would be, and even better in some areas. However, I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling of loss I had for two days while mourning the loss of my baby, or the joy that filled me when I saw it again. I had wondered at first if somebody was trying to trick me and do something special for my birthday, but I quickly dismissed the thought because of the gap of time and the improbability of it all. So there is another lesson for you, the reader, to take away from my story. When you trust God, it may take a while, a long while, for your prayer to be answered. Daniel didn’t get answered for three weeks because the angel Gabriel was held up delivering his message from God. But don’t quit praying and believing, and never think that what you are praying for is too crazy or improbable for God. Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing. Never forget that, because I sure won’t.

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2 Responses to "Panera’s Box: A Restaurant of Surprises"

  1. Sarah says:

    What a fantastic surprise – and a life lesson to boot! Bring the guitar next time you come visit us in Scotland so we can hear it in action 😉

  2. Naomi says:

    Wow! I’m glad I read your story….had NO idea of this. Great surprise and great lesson you learned. You have some very caring parents! Love you.

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