When was the last time a stranger did something particularly kind, generous, or selfless for you? Tell us what happened!
This is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect identities of those involved. The year was 1967.
Carl was walking down the highway one hot summer day. Walking was his only means of getting where he needed to go these days. He had been sick a while now and without any income, but he was willing to work for meals when he felt well enough. Laboring jobs had run out in Cisco, Texas, so he was on his way to Eastland and possibly Ranger if necessary.
Today walking was a particular misery since his tennis shoes both had huge holes in the bottom and the pavement was hot. Usually he was content to take hand-me-downs, but not many people wore his size in anything. Wearing a size 15 shoe was barely second to wearing a pant size 30 X 38. His legs were long and the belt that held up the pants he had been given was beginning to wear away too. How had he become such a beggarly human being? Hard times, sickness, lack of family to sympathize–all pooled itself into the life he now knew. Suddenly a car with a family of five stopped just ahead. The driver got out and asked him if he wanted a ride. This was an unusual offer since so many were ignoring hitch-hikers these days.
Even though Carl was not thumbing it, he said, “Sure, glad to have a ride in this heat.”
As the family had approached him on the highway, they noticed that his feet showed through holes in his shoes. They asked him if they could buy him some new tennis shoes when they got to the next town. As they approached the city limits, the driver spoke, “It is almost lunch time. Have you eaten?”
Carl admitted he had not had lunch or breakfast that day, but that he wanted only one of the things the family offered, not both. He needed the shoes more right now.
Ignoring the man’s statement about only one gift, the family took Carl to the nearest shoe store and got the shoes, but the driver of the car insisted on taking him to a fast food restaurant to buy his lunch when they bought their own meal.
Several miles down the road, it was time for the driver and his family to turn down a different road, so Carl got out and left his meal where he had been sitting. The driver and his family had done their best to make him eat as they drove. Carl really could not see taking two things from this kind family. It would almost be like being a beggar if he did that. He did not want to be a beggar; he wanted to work for his meals and his clothing even if it were second hand.
The driver finally assessed the situation and thought the shoes were of more value, so he pressed him to take those. His kids would gladly divide the hamburger, and it would not be wasted.
As Carl walked away, the family watched him clutch the box of shoes to his breast as if he carried the greatest treasure ever. They continued to watch him walk away, knowing he had not eaten at least two meals that day, and wondered at his ability to stay alive.
To himself as much as to his family, the driver commented, “Maybe we just entertained an angel unaware” (Heb. 13:1-3).