Looking up from my early morning chores I was surprised to see a man plodding toward me through the small pasture between our home and a busy highway. I could see a pickup on the shoulder of the road. Something was obviously wrong—it looked like a strong wind could tip it over. The man drew close and advised he had just blown the right rear tire and wanted to know if I had a heavy duty jack. His jack would not lift the pickup with its heavy load of hogs.
I was already running behind with my chores and normal morning routine prior to going to my office job, but I located my jack and drove him down to his pickup. My jack would lift the pickup, but we found another problem. After the man laboriously reached his spare by climbing the sideboard and squeezing down between tightly packed hogs, he saw that the spare was flat.
At this point I honestly was wishing I had given him some lame excuse and let him solve his own problems. I had several pressing issues at the office that day and I hadn’t even showered yet. However, time was important for this man too, as it was starting to get hot and the tightly packed hogs would likely die if he didn’t get them moved quickly.
The man’s clothes and the shape of his truck gave the impression that he was well acquainted with hard times. However, he did not panic and asked if I could get him to a phone. Before we headed back to my house I noted the make and age of his vehicle. I remembered I had a set of mounted snow tires from an older car I had sold. Since both vehicles were a product of the same company, I thought the wheel holes might match.
We took a wheel down to his pickup and fortunately the holes matched up and we were able to change the tire–mounted wheel and get him on his way. Still thinking of my own agenda for the day, I didn’t get his name, address or even his license number. He had assured me he would return the tire and wheel, but at the moment I was just happy to get him going again.
Later in the day, when demands on my time had slowed and I thought of the morning’s activity, I realized I was remiss in not getting at least the man’s name and had no way of checking to see if he made it to his destination safely. I was feeling rather good about having helped the man and not letting my momentary personal struggles of time get in the way.
The Bible tells us: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV). I am just thankful for God’s grace that prodded me to lay aside my personal focus to help the man.
James teaches that if we see someone in need but only wish him or her well without doing something about the physical need, the value of our words is diminished (2:16).
Two days later, when I backed out of my garage, I found my wheel positioned between the two garage doors. With it was a note thanking me and advising that the stranger had made it to his destination without further problems. He had also clipped some money to the note for the wear on the tire.
This experience is a reminder for me that the need to reach out to help others in times of trouble rarely comes at our convenience. If we are praying to be used of God and asking for His direction, we will more likely respond to the needs around us, regardless of the agenda we have set for ourselves.
Walter N. Maris in a writer from Savannah, Missouri. Lisk Feng is an illustrator from China, now based in New York, New York.
This story originally appeared in The Salvation Army publication War Cry. You may also like: Overcomer