A couple of weeks ago the man who mows my yard left a note on my door saying unless I paid him more money he would no longer cut my yard. Not wanting to be a victim of highway robbery, I decided I would try to mow my rather steep hill myself with a reel mower since the thought of operating a power mower on that hill terrifies me. Three days later as I worked at my second job, my back began to hurt terribly and eventually it became so stiff I could hardly move. The next day I headed towards an important meeting and then to the doctor to get some relief from my back spasm. However, my gas gauge has been getting stuck lately and I ended up on the side of the road, out of gas. Wearing brand-new pumps, still stiff and in a great deal of pain, I began to hobble down Nashville's Belle Meade Boulevard to the nearest gas station, a mile or so away.
Cars passed me in both directions, oblivious and unconcerned with my plight. I hobbled on. After about 20 minute of tortuous progress, a kind lady in a white vehicle stopped on the other side of the road. She waved at me and sat there for a minute or two, but the passing cars made it impossible for me to cross the road. Not only that, but although she was well off the road and I was making no attempt to dart out (like I COULD "dart out" in the condition I was in!), passing cars were actually honking at us to GET OUT OF THE WAY! After a couple of minutes the lady hollered out, "I can't do this," and off she drove.
By this time my new pumps were rubbing some award-winning blisters on my heels, toes and the soles of my feet. I kept going. There was a Texaco somewhere up ahead and I was looking for that big bright Texaco star. I kept telling my poor feet "one more step." I promised my aching back "just a little bit further." At times I truly thought I could go no further, that I would have to collapse on the stone wall in the shade on the side of the road. I knew, however, if I stopped walking I would not be able to get back up. I had to press on.
There were a few trees tall enough to offer patches of shade as I went on and I found myself thankful for each shady oasis. A few vine-covered branches stuck out so far I had to push them aside to stay out of the road and on my safe path. As each car and truck whizzed by, I found myself thankful the side of the road was wide enough to safely accommodate me. I tried to find things to be thankful for but in truth I was feeling sore, weary and discouraged, but I kept going.
Finally the Texaco star was in sight. I slowly limped the last few yards, then up the step and into the cool inner sanctum of the station. Apologizing as I slipped my shoes off, I rested my blistered feet against the cool tile floor. Never mind that the floor might be dirty - the feel of those cool tiles against my shoeless feet was wonderful. I explained my situation to the two employees there and they immediately offered what help they could. The guy behind the counter, a quiet white guy, offered a phone book and phone when i asked so I could call the people I was supposed to be meeting with.
The other worker was a black gal, and she was a talker. She immediately offered her personal gas can since the Texaco did not keep a can for customers. She ran out to fill it up while I rested and made my call. She hollered in "It'll only hold a couple of dollars worth" so I paid the guy while she came in with the can. "Do you have a way to get back to your car?" she asked. I said I did not and she asked the guy if she could take me and the gas back to my Jeep. He said she could leave, so off we went.
She said her name was Paulette and she kept up a steady stream of comments about how the Lord had blessed her and sent her help when she needed it. She continued about how often times were tough and she didn't have the money to make ends meet, but God always provided. I slipped my hand into my purse, wondering if she was hinting for a little cash and feeling like she certainly deserved some. She saw my movement and tactfully rebuked me. She wasn't asking for my money, just sharing her testimony of God's faithfulness.
Paulette had not known I was a believer when she offered me a lift, and if I had not been a believer then, I think I might have been one by the time our brief journey together was over. She insisted on getting the gas out herself, pouring it for me and making sure I got safely in my vehicle before she headed off, praising Jesus as she went. I stiffly climbed back into my Jeep feeling strangely refreshed and comforted. My feet were in agony, I could barely move, but my day had suddenly taken a big turn for the better. I had a smile on my face as I drove off.
There are many spiritual parallels in my tale that remind me of our Christian walk. We have a race to run and often Christians -- especially single Christians -- can be found, bruised, broken, and alone on the path.
Who do you relate to in my story? Are you the single pilgrim, bruised but pressing on? Do you have a goal that keeps you on the path? Are you enticed by the shady rock walls which line the road that lure you to leave the path behind, or do you push the obstacles aside and continue? Are you one of those so concerned with your own race you pass other pilgrims by along your way, oblivious to their situation? I have to admit, I am that oblivious person too often. Do you ever find yourself wishing the slower, wounded souls would just get out of the way? Perhaps you relate to the lady with good intentions who offered assistance but couldn't stay around long enough to help? Or maybe you are the quiet Texaco guy who supplied exactly what was asked, no more and no less?
Blessed are the Paulettes among us, who offer help and then go the extra mile to succor the wounded soul, offering physical support and spiritual encouragement. May we all continue to press on and finish the race before us while encouraging and helping the other pilgrims we meet along the way. Single Christians often don't have a family support system and we find ourselves frequently alone on our journey. We need to watch out for one another on the path so we can help each other finish the race together.
From our archives, August 15, 2003
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