I’m not sure it is very good, but it is from the heart.
A fellow with a particular liking for old cars found one several hundred miles from his home. It was an ugly, rusted sort of thing, but anyone could tell that with a lot (and I mean lot) of hard work the car could be restored to show-room state. With a full tank of gas he headed for home. He got to his first intended stop and filled up, pleased with his progress. About half-way to his next stop he realized that he hadn’t enough fuel to make it the whole distance. Looking at the map he saw that there was only one town between him and his destination and he prayed he would make it that far. Finally he made it to the small town and drove through. He realized to his dismay that there was only one gas station and it was closed for the night. It opened pretty early so he was pleased he would only loose a little time from his schedule. A slower drive through town and he realized there was no motel. Sighing, as he had no blankets in the car and was not prepared to stay out, he decided to sleep in the gas station parking lot and then he could get going first thing.
As he slept a townsman drove by. “Look at that old rotten car. I should call the sheriff and have him tell that bum to leave town.” The next fellow looked at the wreck parked at the gas station and thought, “That was one nice car in its time. With a little work it would be pretty nice again, maybe even worth some money. That guy is lucky to have it.” A third man drove by. He was driving a truck that had seen better years but sung like a bird. The bed had all the gear of a farm truck – tools, some cribbing, a big 55 gallon of diesel and a littler can of gas. He made his living doing service to the tractors and boats around the area. He saw the worn looking car in the lot and guessed the story. Walking up to the car containing the sleeping man, he tapped on the glass. The man snapped awake, eyes wide. “Hi. I’m Joe. It looks like you ran out. I can fill you up from my can if you’d like?” The half asleep man nodded yes and got out to see if he could help. Within a minute Joe had the tank topped off. When payment was offered he shook his head. “Say, have you eaten this evening?” he asked the still amazed driver. Again the head moved, “no” this time. Follow me to my house. My wife was supposed to make some pot-roast and I know there will be enough for all of us. The driver followed the old truck to an equally old cottage with a half-fixed tractor out front and a very small, shed-type garage around the side. He parked where he was told and came in, noticing that the man unlaced his boots and left them at the door. The wife smiled and welcomed him, pointing at a chair around the small table as the smells from the kitchen reached his nose. There could be no finer meal anywhere to smell like that. Looking around as he waited he saw that the walls were covered with pictures of kin and home-made spreads covered the tattered couches. There in one corner was a long-hung print of Jesus in a frame. Nothing special, just a picture of Him sitting along a lake with some people and eating. He turned to his already dressed plate and started in on it. There was the pot-roast, potatoes, carrots, and onions along with some fresh baked corn bread on the side. The man and his wife paused before eating to speak to the Son of God and thank him for the events of the day – including the company of the driver. Nodding politely afterwards, the driver started again into his meal. He was famished and ate hungrily. He was about half-way through his plate when he realized that his hosts had split the same amount he had between themselves. They just smiled and nodded like it was normal. He didn’t know if he should offer some back, thank them, or just enjoy what they had given.
When the driver and the man went back out after eating, the smell of gas filled the yard. Worried, both men quickly approached the car, the man sliding under on the soaked ground. “There is a hole in the tubing where it bends around the frame. It probably took it years to wear through. You are lucky that you didn’t get stuck along that long stretch of road where people only travel a couple times a day.” He shown some more with the flashlight and finally pronounced, “It’s going to take a while to loosen that and drop it below the frame so I can splice it. When you rebuild it you should better think of another way to run it. This will do for now. Go grab a comforter and curl up on the couch, that way you’ll be rested to travel in the morning.” The driver argued but the man was firm, “I don’t want you having a wreck along that stretch of road because I didn’t let you sleep.”
The morning broke bright and warm and the wife greeted the driver with eggs, toast, and fresh jam. She apologized the absence of bacon explaining that he got paid for most of his jobs on Friday and one fellow paid in ham and bacon, so they would have some then. The driver assumed the man had slept in or maybe gone to work and got his coat. Leaving the small, simple house. Paint missing but roof and sides sound. He saw the man coming from the garage wiping his hands on a towel. “That was good timing, I just finished.” The driver though that if it took that long for the man to finish a splice, he must be really slow. The man continued, “While I was under there I realized that the car hasn’t had any work from some years. So I popped out the spark plugs and cleaned and re-gapped them, I checked the distributor and set its gap. I timed it, and when I was doing that I realized that fan belt was about to break. I happened to have the right size in the shed so I replaced it. The cooling system looks good so I topped it off, but the heater will need repaired. The oil has been changed recently. Careful with those tires, but they will do.” The driver was amazed, the man spend all night checking over the old car. Now it was good enough to make it all the way home with no problems. He offered some money and was refused. Argued some more and was still refused. Finally with a shrug he shook the man’s hand and got into the car. With the man and wife waving he found his way down the driveway and onto the highway.
As he drove, the driver thought of the man’s helpfulness and care that he would be safe. He thought of how they gave him half of what they had for dinner and shared the rest between each other. He thought about the words of the man’s prayer, how honest and truthful they were – as if he was talking to his brother. Last he thought about the picture on the wall. While it was one of the classical depictions of Jesus, it showed Him doing something that he hadn’t given much thought to. It showed Him sitting in the dirty sand with his followers who probably smelled like fish, roasting some of the same over the fire. Nothing special, nothing Godly, just sharing some fish and conversation the way the man and his wife did. Driving the last hill into the big city that was his home, he made a decision that would change his life forever. He wanted to know Jesus as a brother and to reach out like a friend to anyone he met. It wasn’t the first person who thought he should be driven from town. It wasn’t the second person who saw that he was surrounded by something that might have value. It was the third person who accessed his needs and offered to meet them. This went farther than any sermon on Sunday.
A small helicopter landed in the field next to a tiny, tattered shack. A familiar man was seen stepping down. He knew the man and woman would be there as it was afternoon on Sunday. With surprise they came through the doorway, the wife wiping her hands on a towel covered with flour. Then they did what they always did, invited the man and his pilot in for lunch. They accepted and the door shut behind as they entered. Today a good man would be rewarded, if he allowed it.
God bless those who don’t walk away and reach out to others. God bless those to give themselves not their money. A coin, no matter how many, will not show Jesus love. Only the touch of the caring hand of another and the extra effort to meet their needs.
Lord Jesus, I know that in these trying times it it easy to cover our head with our misery than to reach out to others who are the same. Tell me and show me what I need to do, and I will step to follow. Amen.