He was driving home one evening, on a two-lane country road. Work, in
this small mid-western community, was almost as slow as his beat-up
Pontiac. But he never quit looking. Ever since the factory closed, he'd
been unemployed, and with winter raging on, the chill had finally hit
It was a lonely road. Not very many people had a reason to be on it,
unless they were leaving. Most of his friends had already left.
They had families to feed and dreams to fulfill. But he stayed on.
After all, this was where he buried his mother and father. He was born
here and knew the country.
He could go down this road blind, and tell you what was on either side,
and with his headlights not working, that came in handy. It was
starting to get dark and light snow flurries were coming down. He'd
better get a move on.
You know, he almost didn't see the old lady, stranded on the side of
the road. But even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed
help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His
Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her.
Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to
help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn't look
safe, he looked poor and hungry. He could see that she was frightened,
standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt.
It was that chill that only fear can put in you. He said, "I'm here to
help you ma'am. Why don't you wait in the car where it's warm. By the
way, my name is Joe." Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old
lady, that was bad enough. Joe crawled under the car looking for a
place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he
was able to change the tire. But he had to get dirty and his hands
hurt. As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down her
window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St.
Louis and was only just passing through. She couldn't thank him
enough for coming to her aid. Joe just smiled as he closed her trunk.
She asked him how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all
right with her. She had already imagined all the awful things that
could have happened had he not stopped. Joe never thought twice about
the money. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need,
and God knows there were plenty who had given him a hand in the past.
He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to
act any other way. He told her that if she really wanted to pay him
back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could
give that person the assistance that they needed, and Joe added "...
and think of me".
He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold
and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing
into the twilight. A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe.
She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she
made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant.
Outside were two old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her.
The cash register was like the telephone of an out of work actor--it
didn't ring much.
Her waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair.
She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole
day couldn't erase. The lady noticed that the waitress must be 8 months
pregnant, and yet very obviously did not let the strain and aches change
her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little
could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Joe.
After the lady finished her meal, and the waitress went to get her
change from a hundred-dollar bill, the lady slipped out the door and was
gone by the time the waitress came back. She wondered where the lady
could be, then she noticed something written on a napkin. There were
tears in her eyes, when she read what the lady wrote. It said, "You
don't owe me a thing, I've been the beneficiary of more love in the
space of a few hours than I have in a long time, and I am grateful.
If you really want to pay me back, here's what you do. Just continue to
let God show His love to others through you and I will start to do the
Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to
serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when
she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about
the money and what the lady had written. How could she have known
how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next
month, it was going to be hard. She knew how worried her husband
was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss
and whispered soft and low, "Every thing's gonna be alright; I love