This week, as the last lingering days of summer were making their exit, my thoughts were led to a cold winter’s night outside of St. Louis, Missouri. That night, more than forty years ago, I witnessed an example of kindness that I have never forgotten.
My family and I were in town to watch the St. Louis Cardinals play. We were excited about the game but I don’t remember who they played or even if they won that day. The only thing I remember about that game was that it was played in single digit temperatures and we were all freezing.
When the game was over, we stopped to fill our gas tank and started our journey home. At the time, we had no way of knowing that the gas we had just purchased was watered down. As the sun set and the temperatures continued to fall, the water in our gas tank froze and our car stopped.
On a cold, dark road in the middle of nowhere, our family was stranded. There were no city lights in the distance. There were no lights from a nearby house or business. There were no cell phones, no OnStar. We were freezing, frightened and alone.
Just as my father was about to set off on foot to find help, we saw a pair of headlights that seemed to come out of nowhere. As they got closer we saw an old truck come toward us, slow down and pull over. The driver of the truck was a kind old man. He drove my father to the nearest service station, waited with him while they towed and fixed our car and took my mother, sister and I to his home to wait while he did.
His wife was equally as kind. She made sure we were warm and made us hot cocoa. She made and decorated Christmas cookies with us. She even showed us how to make little Santa Claus figures out of apples and marshmallows. She could have made us feel that we were an inconvenience or intrusion but instead she welcomed us. Her heart was as warm and inviting as her home was that night.
The night could have ended very badly for us. At the very least, we could have come away from it feeling bitter, hurt and defeated. Instead, the kindness of the old couple left us feeling warm, safe and loved.
Sometimes, I think if I had gone back the next day, the old truck, the house and the couple themselves would have all magically vanished because they were really angels sent to rescue my family on that cold, dark night. I know they were probably just as real as you and me but that doesn’t make them any less Heavenly messengers or any less sent from above.
We were never really alone that night. As we travel the cold, dark, scary roads of this world we are never truly alone. Our Heavenly Father is always there and He will always send His messengers both Heavenly and earthly to rescue us in our time of need.