We had a busy, tiring day. Nicholas had guitar practice. Lexi had a piano mini-recital/ Christmas party after that. Then tonight we had planned to go to dinner at a restaurant noted for their beautiful display of gingerbread (or otherwise edible) creations. Then we were going to drive around and look at some of the decorated homes. I had spent the morning doing laundry, packing and straightening the house so the kids and I can make the drive to Oklahoma first thing in the morning. And everything and everything.
We finished dinner and MrD wanted to top off my vehicle so we would have a full tank of gas to start our trip. There was a teensy bit of light at the gas station, so I opened my book to finish a chapter I had started while waiting for the kids earlier. As we were pulling out, he asked me “Did you see that guy?” I said no…and proceeded to fiddle with the new CD I made today (Point of Grace, just thrills me). MrD said the man wanted money for gas, said his credit card was declined and he needed to get home to southern Missouri. This is a high traffic trucker area and the story just didn’t ring true. Panhandlers. Always have their hand out.
As we drove on, I wondered out loud, “What would I do if my credit card wouldn’t work and I had no cash?” Yikes! What if his story was true? Then I reminded MrD about the time we lived in San Antonio and I had found myself without cash, checkbook or driver’s license (oops)…after I had filled my tank. I promised the clerk that even though I had no ID, I didn’t live too far away and he agreed to let me return with the cash. This was before cell phones were part of my anatomy so I had to drive home and tell MrD, who made a bee-line to the gas station. He paid for my gas and said thank you again. Even though I had offered to leave my wedding rings as collateral, the clerk declined and just trusted our word. Thank you to Jesus!
I promptly forgot about the man as we drove down this dark, back road toward home.
Suddenly, MrD pulled into a deserted parking lot and I looked up, thinking we were lost. Giving him my best What now? look, he said we were going back to help the man. Our kids joined the conversation and the skepticism. IF he was still there. IF he really needed gas. IF it wasn’t a scam.
We pulled in the parking lot and the man’s vehicle was still parked in the same place. The man and his wife were standing outside the store. We watched them for a few minutes, assessing and speculating. They got in their car and surprisingly pulled up right beside us. Sitting in our car, trying not to look at them, we discussed the situation a bit more. Bottom line, the man said they needed help. Who are we to judge their honesty?
MrD got out and approached their van. When they saw us return, they thought they were in trouble and were nervously awaiting their fate. The woman was crying. Pointing out the gas gauge on E, they were relieved that our purpose was simply to give them a hand. With a full tank, they said thank you and pulled out into the night.
This was 8:30 at night. This couple had been stuck here, asking for help, since this morning. One person had been kind enough to buy them lunch. At this point, I was ready to chase them down the highway and take them to dinner. I felt horrible. But they were gone, leaving me with a sadness I can’t quite shake, and thankful for my husband’s quiet kindness – and the fact that he was listening to God’s direction to turn the car around. Thank you Jesus. Amen.