March 14, 2007

Angels in a Red Dodge

2007 1508 page28 capE WASN’T TRULY AN ANGEL. Neither was it a life-and-death situation. I was just driving up I-81 from Tennessee in a soggy drizzle. I had crossed the Virginia border and stopped to grab something to drink.
Pulling up beside a red Dodge pickup I slammed my door and sloshed my way to the covered sidewalk in front of the store. I excused myself past two farmers who stood watching the rain splash at their feet. I bought a soda and pushed the door marked “Pull” as I hurried to get back on the road.
“Lovely day,” I said with a grin as I excused myself back across their path.
“Actually, it is,” said one, breathing in deeply. “We need it.”
“Glad it’s here then,” I said. “Ya’ll take care now.” I ducked into the rain again, and I swam back to my truck. One of the men on the sidewalk got into his own truck and backed out.
Suddenly Stranded
I shoved the key into the ignition and turned it. Click. I turned it off and tried again. Click, click, click. Yuck.
2007 1508 page28The man in front of the store stood watching me as I splashed back toward him. I stood there beside him considering my options, hoping the rain would slow.
“Battery shot?” he asked after a while.
“I hope it’s only the battery,” I said. “I’ll check the connections and see if something has come loose.”
“Need tools? I got some in my truck,” he offered.
“No, but thanks; I have tools,” I said, and started back into the rain.
“You got a raincoat too?”
“Well, no. I guess I don’t.”
“I do. I’ll get it for you.”
Without waiting for a reply, he ran to his truck and came back with a poncho. He helped me sort it out, and I hauled out my toolbox. Grabbing the necessary tools I popped the hood, cleaned and tightened my battery cables, then turned the key again. Still nothing.
Back in front of the store we discussed what else might be the problem.
“I’ll tell you what,” said the farmer. “I know where there’s a parts store open on Sundays. It’s about 10 miles from here, and they do free tests. Let’s see if we can jump-start your truck, and you can follow me down there.”
I offered back his poncho, but he refused.
“I live here. You got a long trip to go all wet.” And again, without waiting for my reply, he ducked back into the rain.

Questions for Reflection

1. We've all benefited from the kindness of starngers; what was, for you, one of the most memorable occasions?

2. What are some real-life obstacles to stopping to help someone in need?

What biblical principles come into play when we go out of our way to help someone in need? List at least three.

4. What are some specific ways to make random acts of kindess the rule in our lives, rather than the exception?

He pulled his Dodge in front of my Ford, and we hooked up my jumper cables. My truck started right up.

Listen, I can find this store if you’ll tell me where it is,”
I said as we ran back to shelter. “I hate for you to drive all the way there.”
“Oh, that’s not a problem. But actually, it is easy to find.” And he proceeded to give me directions.
I handed back his poncho. “I do appreciate your help. Will you let me give you something for your time?” I asked, reaching for my wallet.
He would hear none of it. I insisted.
“OK, listen,” he said. “Someone helped me out awhile back; a lot more major than this. He wouldn’t let me pay him, either. Just made me promise I’d help two more people—at least. You’re one of ’em. You promise me the same thing, and we’ll call it even.”
I just grinned. “You got yourself a deal.”
The Second Mile
I found the auto parts store, and they confirmed that the problem was no more serious than my battery. I had another one at home and decided to make sure I didn’t stall the car until I got there.
Heading back toward the interstate I pulled up at a traffic light. A red Dodge pulled up beside me, and the farmer rolled down his window. “Just thought I’d make sure you found the place OK. Was it just the battery?”
I briefly explained what happened before the light turned, then the angel in the red Dodge made a left. I went straight and pulled onto the interstate, my eyes watching the shoulders of the road for anyone who might be having car trouble.
An angel in a red Dodge? Why not? Who says God reserves angels for just life-and-death situations?
Jeff Scoggins is a district pastor, serving the Minnesota Conference.