Last week, I was driving down one of the main roads in our city; I was on my way to a meeting and was already perilously close to being late. It was one of the days recently when the weather was in the 0-10 range, with a wind chill below zero. I was bundled up from toes to neck in my car and was still freezing, even with the heat in the car on at full blast. I could see my breath come out in in foggy swirls inside the car.
As I drove down the long stretch of road ahead of me, I came up on a young woman who was walking on the sidewalk. She had no gloves on, and no hat. I felt God nudging me to stop for her, that quiet voice of the Holy Spirit asking me to obey.
At the next light, I took a left, turned into a parking lot, and doubled back. At the awkward moment of pulling up alongside of her, I smiled as warmly as I could, pushed the passenger window down, and asked if she needed a ride somewhere. She nodded and hopped in the car as quickly as she could open the door. It was unbearably cold.
This woman was friendly and young; I introduced myself and asked where she needed to go. Her car, she said, had run out of gas and was stalled on the road a ways back. She was walking to the nearest gas station, which was still another half mile ahead.
“I’m so sorry that it’s so cold out there,” I said.
“Yeah, it’s really cold. My two-year old is in the car waiting for me with our friend.”
We chatted about little bits of nothing until we made it to the gas station.
If she had continued walking to the gas station and then back to her car, it would have taken her another 45 minutes–at least–to get back to her car with gas and turn the heat on for her son. The whole process of me picking her up, driving her to the gas station, picking up a gallon of gas, and driving back to her car probably took seven minutes. Thank you, God, for giving me your eyes to see her. This was his care for her, I knew. It wasn’t about me at all. I was just offering a car, a quicker way out of a situation that any one of us could find ourselves in on a cold day–stuck in a dead car that’s out of gas, without alternative options.
After she added a gallon of gas to the red portable container the attendant gave to her, we chatted on the way back to her car. I told her I was pregnant with my first child; she said the twos were terrible. We laughed. I invited her to church and, at a stop light, scribbled my name and phone number on a piece of paper. She smiled, thanked me, and got out of the car. I could see the profile of her son in the backseat.
I made it to my meeting. I was late. It didn’t matter at all.