Hitchhiking, Moving, and a Little Bit of Nice Goes a Long Way
After packing two or three boxes, I was ready for dinner. Two weeks ago my wife and I were in the middle of stuffing corrugated cardboard full of our most precious belongings wrapped in the Sunday funnies. Moving is excitingly painful.
Erin had volunteered for one of the chaperone posts at our church’s student lock-in. She in turn volunteered me to finish packing our 900 square foot cracker box. We had finally sold our place, bought another, and were moving on up to Southern Indiana, closer to our church where we serve.
My stomach told me that dinnertime had arrived. Reverting back to bachelorhood, I popped a frozen pizza pie in the oven. Upon removal from the 425-degree heated appliance, I realized that the delicious pepperoni circle needed a cohort. So I went to the local jiffy-rip up the road to grab a quick soda.
I did something I never do…I left the keys in the truck with the ignition running while I selected a diet coke from the wall-o-soda. Walking back to my truck, I reached for the door handle. Literally a millisecond before I pulled the plastic lever, the automatic lock decided to engage all on its own. The sound of *click* seemed to echo throughout the premise.
I looked around to see if it was some lame joke, or a candid camera moment. Nothing. I was the only one in the parking lot. It was just me, my cell phone in hand, my diet coke in the other hand, and my running 2003 Toyota Tacoma with locked doors, mocking me with the sound of the rumbling engine.
I could only conclude that the truck was momentarily possessed. After repeated attempts at prayer for the door to magically unlock as it had magically locked, I tried a couple of automobile-exorcisms to no avail.
So I took the chip off my shoulder and called my wife. She did not answer her cell phone. I then swallowed all my pride and called my associate pastor. No answer from his end of the cell exchange.
At the moment of deep desperation, a scraggly-looking fellow in a laundry-mat truck pulled up beside me and asked if I needed help. I told him my tale. He laughed heartily. He then offered me a ride back home.
In one of my brighter moments, I had placed a magnetic box under my truck with a spare key to the house. I grabbed it and jumped in his truck. His cabin dog growled at me with a menacing-mutt-look the entire way back to my townhouse.
“Don’t mind her too much,” he said. “She thinks this truck is hers.”
“Sure thing,” I decided to hug my door.
My place wasn’t too far away. But when we arrived, I realized that the spare key to my truck was stowed somewhere in one of the myriad boxes piled up around the condo.
“Give me three minutes, then you can leave,” I negotiated.
“Three minutes, it is.”
I ran into the guest bedroom, looking for the box that might contain my buried treasure. A twinge of guilt ran through me. I should’ve helped my wife pack. Then I’d know where the spare key is. Too late now…
Then I saw the box. “Office Supplies” marked clearly on the top. I tore into it, turned it upside down. Paper clips, buttons, pens, pencils, and hundreds of miniscule items bounced across the room. I had made a giant mess, and the keys were nowhere to be found.
A wave of enlightenment hit me as I heard the laundry-mat guy honking. Maybe my wife left the spare keys in the desk drawer. I opened the drawer. There they were. All alone. I guess she realized we might need the spare set. She was right.
I ran back out to the truck as my laundry-mat angel was turning around to leave. I hopped in and hitched a ride back to my truck, which was still burning 87-octane. I thanked my Good Samaritan for the ride. He smiled back.
The following Sunday I told my church through this story how a little bit of nice can go a long way. Not that I would recommend offering rides to strangers, but he made my day. If I were an unbeliever, my heart would have been ready for a gospel presentation after such a gesture.
No doubt, God reminded me about both His sovereignty and His sense of humor. That day I saw how the two collide at times. More importantly, the Lord showed me what it means to reach out to people, even in small ways. Whether or not this fellow was Christian, I do not know. But it was his goodwill that made me willing to hearing his story if he had chosen to tell it. It was the laundry-mat-trucker-guy and his growling companion that opened this pastor’s eyes a bit to what sustains true ministry – meeting the needs of a dying world so that the gospel message can be shared and a lost people eternally saved.
If you haven’t offered a kind and random act of compassion lately, look for such opportunities. Then pray that the Lord will open doors for His message through your obedience and thoughtfulness.