I spotted her on the far left shoulder of the interstate just as a I merged into the right lane. A rather large, woman in a nice dress standing up as she moved the spare tire from underside of the rear of her van. Fortunately for her the rain had let up but the clouds threatened that there was more to come. I glanced over my left shoulder to see if I could jettison myself over to help but there was no way I could make it across three lanes of traffic. To help at this point would mean I would have to get off at the next exit, get back on the interstate in the other direction and reach her from the inside shoulder. I was officially on the clock at work and needed to get to my next stop. All of this was a clear sign that it just wasn’t my day to help this lady.
Within seconds of trying to dismiss helping her God pressed upon me that I was the one who needed to stop. In just a few more seconds I considered the idea of carrying on with my schedule but I knew it was not going to happen. I weighed the cost of NOT stopping and even pondered what wrath God may pour out on me, my family, and friends for not stopping. I said out loud to God but more to myself, “I will stop because I’m supposed to, not because I think you’ll do bad things to me.” I was assuring myself that I know God is not waiting to kill me for my disobedience. It’s amazing how easily we can make safe and logically sound decisions but it’s more amazing how God trumps us by matching our safe decisions with an internal conviction to act.
I merged off the interstate behind a car that seemed to be leading me back to the same lady. I thought that maybe they were her relatives or friends and were going back to help her. I thought “that’s just like God… testing me to see if I’d do it”. I followed them a little way excited that I would be off the hook but the car pulled off on the right shoulder to help another stranded motorist. I carried on to the left lane to position myself to stop in the left shoulder to jump the median and help her on the other side.
As I jumped over the divider and before I could say a word she immediately bragged about how she was able to get the spare tire out from under her van. Not characteristic of what I expected. I expected lamentations or at least praises to her savior who stopped to help. She told me she just couldn’t figure out how to work the jack despite the instructions. I smiled politely and proudly told her I’d handle it. I got the van jacked up a little and removed the cap covering the lug nuts. It was apparent that the last time her tire was touched the person didn’t replace one nut and didn’t tighten another. I was a little shocked myself and told her what a “blessing” it is that she only had a flat.
She was beside herself and said “everything happens for a reason, everything happens for a reason!! I was praying to God for help and he was faithful beyond what I imagined!” She was elated. I started to remove the lug nuts but the head of the wrench wouldn’t grip the nuts. I thought it was too big but it turned out the head was split. I climbed back to my car to check my tire wrench but it was too small. As I climbed back to her I found my helpless friend hammering on the tire wrench trying to bend it back in place. I was wondering out loud where the closest Autozone was and she said “I don’t have a cell phone. Can I borrow yours and I’ll call my dad?”. “Of course”. She called her father while I sized up her and her van trying to figure her out. She was most joyful and thankful in this situation that was inconvenient for both of us. Not one negative word or attitude. She let me know her father was on the way and how thankful she was that I stopped. Man. If she only knew.
She told me her name was “Marilyn” but honestly she was an angel to me. I am a Christian and believe in an almighty God and consider my faith strong despite my sinfulness but Marilyn gave me a dose of what truly being thankful in all situations looks like. Even with my sinful attitude of inconvenience, God used me to help one of his children. I proved unable to save her of which I am now thankful. She called on her Father for help and he provided me as a tool for her to call her father for help. Two people that truly love her and in the end enjoyed the privilege of saving her.
I even thought that if I had to do it again I should have at least taken the time to explain how in my reluctance God ordered my stop and that help was from him, not simply what looked like a good samaritan. But then I’m pretty sure she didn’t need me to tell her that. She knew it.
My Father stopped Marilyn to help me.