Today, as I was running around town picking up some items in preparation for our Spring Carnival, I wheeled into Staples for a few things. Now, I’m the kind of guy who knows what he needs before planning a trip to the store and today was no exception. I drove into the parking lot, spied out a nice spot near the front that would allow a quick getaway, parked the car and headed to take care of business. On my way in I overheard a dreaded sound coming from a Jeep parked in front of the store; I heard that loud clicking noise that happens when your battery doesn’t have a good connection.
My first thought was, “Man I sure hate it for that guy.” But my next thought was, “Here’s an opportunity to share the love of Christ.” I turned, put my sunglasses back on and walked toward the man. I asked if he needed some help and he quickly asked if I had some jumper cables. I did and so I offered to help. He had to clean off the battery posts and I had some quick shopping to do so I told him I would be right out and would help him.
I came back out checked on the man and was surprised to see an elderly black gentleman walking toward us. He too offered to help. When the Jeep owner saw him he smiled and pointed to me saying, “This guy is gonna give me a hand, but thank you.” The older gentleman smiled and said, “Well, God is just sending angels flying to your rescue today?”
The older gentleman then offered a quick joke in true Alabama fashion that ended with a faint cry of War Eagle. For those of you who don’t understand this just imagine the most widespread sports rivalry you can and then double it. This was a lighthearted stab at an Alabama fan from an Auburn fan. The Jeep driver had on an Alabama shirt and that is all it takes in this part of the country.
After helping the man and getting his Jeep running I got in my car and drove off thinking about this whole situation. Here was a white middle aged man with a broken down Jeep stranded in the parking lot of Staples in Athens Alabama. When up walks an older black man with a cheerful smile on his face and love in his heart. His first comment was a request to serve and his second was a mention of God’s Provision. Now, he might not see it that way, but I did.
Ok, he didn’t pick up a man half dead from the ditch on the side of the road, but he crossed a few cultural barriers and that is something one doesn’t see every day. First, he didn’t allow ethnicity to dissuade him from doing what was a loving and selfless act. Second, he brought a spiritual tone to the conversation. In this day and age a mention of the spiritual is not specifically Christ-centered; but I couldn’t help but see God’s providential hand in the circumstances after he said what he did. Third, he offered to help knowing the guy was an Alabama fan. Trust me that is a big deal around these parts.
Maybe this little glimpse into my trip to Staples will get you thinking like it did me.