I’m hesitant to share this story, because I don’t want it to come across the wrong way. Scripture teaches us not to brag and boast, so don’t think that is what I’m doing here. Scripture also teaches us to let our light shine before men so that they will see our good works and glorify God. That’s my hope here; I want this story to lead to God’s greater glory.
I had to make a whirlwind trip yesterday to central Oklahoma. It was a long drive there and a long drive back home today. It was a good day for driving, but 400 miles of Interstate can get boring. So today I did something I haven’t done in years–I picked up a hitchhiker. Now, that almost sounds like I did it to relieve the boredom, but that isn’t the reason! I actually passed two hitchhikers yesterday and thought about stopping. As I sped on by, I wondered if Jesus would have stopped. (I’m convinced he would have.) And so I felt a little guilty about it. And then something happened today that motivated me to serve someone.
I was stopped at a toll booth on Interstate 40 driving east toward the Oklahoma/Arkansas line. I had all my quarters ready to throw in the hopper, but the lady in front of me didn’t. So I sat in the car waiting my turn with the window down. In the lane next to me, a guy about 20 years old in a little 4 cylinder Chevy was visibly curious about what was happening. The tollbooth attendant was trying to explain to him that he didn’t have to pay the toll. It turns out that the driver in front of him–who he apparently didn’t know–had already paid his toll for him. Just out of the blue. No explanation. No hope for payback. No reason at all, except that Jesus had shown us that this is the way to live.
Now, I don’t know if that generous person paid the extra fare out of reverence for Christ. But I believe that God works through things like that to teach us lessons. That mystery driver motivated me to ministry.
So when I was driving down the road half an hour later and saw a hitchhiker, I stopped. His name is Samuel, and he was going to Van Buren to look for work. We talked some but not a whole lot. He ate half a bag of pretzels and drank a Dr. Pepper, and that was that. The ride saved him a lot of walking, and it reinforced so many lessons that I’ve been taught all my life. I just wonder if I would have stopped if it hadn’t been for the lesson I learned earlier today at the tollbooth. Thank God for giving us the reminders and examples we need that motivate us to ministry.