Sunday, July 26, 2015

The kindness of a stranger

In light of my previous post I published earlier this evening, I've been thinking and praying about all the kind deeds I've been a part of, or even the recipient of.  I think I've probably seen far more kindness in the world than ugliness, though sometimes the ugliness hurts so much we tend to focus on it.  However, I think in light of the following verse, I want to end my evening focusing on the kindness of others.

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."  Philippians 4:7-9 NIV

I have been a part of so many amazing acts of love.  I've had a friend call me up and ask if I knew anyone who might need some help at Thanksgiving.  She drove me to the store and picked up all the items a family would need to make a nice dinner, and then took me to each person's home and had me deliver it.  She didn't want any of them to know where it had come from and asked that they only thank God for the kindness received.
I've watched a young lady at a nearby high school continue a friendship well after her graduation to my friend's son, who has a disability.  Even after her own graduation, she still comes to pick him up and take him to church.
I've watched members of my church sit at the hospital with me when my son had a horrific car accident 6 years ago.  They sat with my family for hours, just to be with us when we weren't in the room with him, and to pray for our family.  They stayed well into the night until he came out of surgery and seemed to be safe.
I want to share a very specific story about an absolute stranger, who I had never met before, and have never seen since.  I wish I had gotten his name, I have often prayed for him, because his unselfishness impacted me so much.  He was a bit older than me; I was in high school.  It was probably about spring of 1991, as I was getting close to graduation.  A few months before, I had been driving my first car, when another boy jumped into my lane and hit me head on.  My car was totaled.  My mom didn't have the car at a time, so I had been helping her get to work and then going to my after-school job.  Because of this, I had to replace my car quickly and ended up buying a car I did not like at all, a lemon-yellow, 1978 Ford Fairmont!  It came complete with a charred dash and a sagging headliner.  The only plus side of this car was that it was big enough I could fit almost my entire youth group in the car to go out to dinner after church!  However, one day when I got in the car, I reversed from my grandmother's driveway, where I lived, on Booth Calloway Road, and suddenly I knew I was in trouble!
My grandmother lived on a busy road and it was about the time everyone was heading home from work.  I put the car in reverse and backed into the road, then shifted into drive, but the car wouldn't move forward.  It arced to the right and to the left, but would not go forward.  I tried to reverse into the field on the other side of the road, and nothing still.  I had no idea that the rack and pinion had cracked (or broken) at that time.  I was getting into a panic quite quickly because it did not take long for a huge line of cars to pile up on either side of me - unable to pass because of my enormously long car blocking the road, and a fence that ran to the road just behind my bumper.  I kept trying - but I kept getting the same result.  People began shouting and honking.  After what seemed like an eternity, a man jumped from his car from way back in the line of cars.  He told a few people to calm down, it was easy to see I needed help.  He ran to my vehicle, took a quick look and listened to what I said was going on, then told me to do JUST as he said.  He was not a very big man, and he wasn't dressed very fancy, just a simple t-shirt and Wrangler type jeans.  But I couldn't believe what he had to do.  He literally wrapped his body around my front tire and rotated it back the right direction.  He would instruct me to gently press the gas pedal until he told me to stop.  We repeated this process, until finally, we were able to guide the car into the field across the street from my house.  He told me it was the best he could do for now, but he knew I was safely out of the road.  Then he hurried back to get his own car out of the road before the impatient line of vehicles began roaring past me, impatient at the delay.  I have often thought of this guy, wondering if he had a wife, maybe children, and yet for a complete stranger, he trusted me to listen to him in order to help me get out of danger.  I have shuddered at the thought fact that if I'd not listened carefully, I could have really hurt him.  But he never seemed concerned; he just smiled and said he was glad I was safe, and went on his way!
I just thought I'd share a story that shows the kindness of strangers.  Despite some of the not-so-pleasant events in our life, people like him and so many others make a much greater impact.  I often have wished that I could have told him what his kind deed meant to me, how in a way it shaped me to know that I wanted to be able to show others kindness.  How I wish I'd known when he departed that I'd pray for him and whoever his family is, so I could have told him that if he ever felt he was prayed for, maybe it was me, still praying for his safety.
I thank you Lord, for the compassion you have shown us, and for those in this world that continue to show compassion in a world that can sometimes seem cruel and heartless.

"And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
Colossians 3:14 NIV 

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