It was a time before GPS and cell phones. I was driving a borrowed car in a strange town.
I was alone.
It was very early on a Sunday morning.
I asked the nice concierge at the hotel for guidance and he prattled off a list of directions and mileage in the most engaging accent – it almost sounded like poetry – and his poem ended with “you cannot miss it.” He was so certain, in fact, that he used that term three or four times in our conversation. I believed him.
I was in Los Angeles attempting to make it back to Orange County for a church service at which I was to sing. After two stops, misguidance by strangers, and almost 100 miles out of the way, I recognized that indeed, I HAD missed it. I had missed the freeway exit I needed, I had missed two services, and I had missed reading the signs until I reached Palm Springs.
I stopped at a truck stop and began to cry. I don’t mean the cute and feminine cry that most of my friends make when they get emotional, I mean the heaving-sobbing-mucus-and gasps for air and tissues-type of cry.
A kind gentleman tapped on the window. I may or may not have lost all bladder control at that time because I did not expect his knock, but I was glad to see a friendly face. I rolled down the window (and I mean rolled, not pressed a button and watched it move – it was a long time ago.)
After hearing my story and offering me a cloth handkerchief from his pocket, he kindly took a map from his car and a highlighter and illustrated how I might get back home. My breathing slowed down, my sobs softened. I warned him not to tell me that I could not miss it. He didn’t. He just calmly listened, empathized, and told me that he would be praying for me to find my way home. He even drove alongside me for a few miles until I got onto the right freeway. After it was all over, I realized that I did not even ask his name.
I did find my way home. I rushed into the arms of my husband and recounted the morning’s adventures. I told him about the kind stranger at a truck stop in Palm Springs.
I think about this man every time I come across someone in my life who has “lost their way” spiritually. I do not beat them with Facebook posts, accusations, or judgment. I try and gently highlight God’s Word, point them to Jesus, and walk alongside them with empathy and kindness. Sometimes, I do a better job than others. I just don’t want anyone to miss the great love of Jesus and if I can provide a map of grace, I want to be that person. Even if it means hanging out at truck stops in Palm Springs. Even if it means no one knows my name.
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Thank you for being light where God has placed you and showing others the way to Him.