Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Pretty Cool Thing: 2/2/1 And 15 Minutes

There has been a lot of "race" related stories going around lately in the media that is really tiring.  I don't need to get into it, as you are already aware if you read the news.  So, I have a story that I'd like to share with you, about what happened to me recently.  I realize that as I tell you this, it comes from "my perspective".
I don't know about you, but there are some things about drive time that is kind of cool.  I personally like to drive with the windows down, radio off, and just go.  On this particular day, it was in the mid 90s with high humidity.  Really just a typical, warmer day in the south.
As I'm driving along I-20, between Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, I notice two SUVs ahead, parked on the side of the interstate.  I whizzed by them doing 75 mph, and I noticed that there were two women standing behind the SUVs, with a child stroller outside the vehicle.  One of the SUVs had a flat tire, which happened to be on the driver side rear (the interstate side).  That is really all that I saw as I went by.  In my mind, I'm thinking "two women, flat tire, mid 90 degree weather".  Probably not the best situation with the heat, let alone the safety of the women (and potentially children) on the side of an interstate with no where to go.  I never hit the brakes as I went by.
Occasionally this will happen.  My conscience will start to "flare up", more noticeable than the normal.  As I'm driving along, that "more than noticeable" thing inside was telling me to go back.  I had to go about 7 miles to get to the next off ramp to turn around and go back, which I did.  As I drove by on the opposite side of the interstate, I noticed there was a third person there, standing with the two women.
I got to the next off ramp to get turned around in the right direction again, and headed back towards where these folks were.  As I pulled up, I noticed a slightly different story than what I originally saw.  I saw two Hispanic women, and two black men.  My thought was, "maybe two married couples".  To me, nothing is special about this story yet.
I pulled up beside them and one of the men approached my truck.  He held up a tire iron and said his iron wouldn't fit the lug nuts on the flat tire, and asked if I had one that might work.  "I probably do" was my response, and I got out.  I carry a four point tire iron, just because you never know when you will need it.  I got out the tire iron, jack, and my cheater bar (a four foot, 4 inch in diameter pipe).  As I walked up to the SUV with the flat tire, I greeted all who where there and started working on the flat tire.
Now, at this point, keep in mind we have two Hispanic women, two black men, and one white man.  All together on the side of I-20.  I don't know where you are from, but this is an unusual site.
I'm going to go ahead and tell you then end, and come back to some details I noticed.  The flat tire did get fixed, and everyone went on their way.  Now, lets back up just a little bit for some interesting things I noticed.
1.  First, I found out that the two black men were not married to the two Hispanic women.  As the story unfolded, black man #1 told me that he was driving his daughter to college (UofA) and that he stopped to help these two Hispanic women who were obviously stranded.  Only to realize he didn't have the right size tire iron for their SUV.  Apparently, neither did the two women.
2.  I noticed that as I bent down on my knees, working on this tire, black man #2 got his silver window visor out of his SUV and put it on the ground beside me, so that I could put it under my knees so that I would not get scratched up (or burned from the heat) as I worked on the tire. The pavement gets hot in the sun.
3.  As I worked on the tire, black man #1 told me he was going to walk up a few feet away from me to try to direct traffic away from me as best he could, since I was on the interstate side and traffic was less than a couple of feet from me, going 70 to 80 mph.
4.  Black man #1 also told the two Hispanic women that Tuscaloosa (the direction they were headed) was the nearest place to get their tire replaced, and that they should do this if they were traveling far.
5.  When I got the tire changed, me and black man #1 shook hands.  I gathered all of my things and, since my hands were full at this point, black man #2 gave me an forearm/elbow bump.
6.  As I walked past the two Hispanic women, they were very grateful for the help, and stated so to me.
7.  As I went to put my stuff in the back of my truck, black man #1 helped me carry one thing I was struggling with (a jack stand), since I had my hands completely full with my jack, cheater bar and tire iron.
8.  This is just interesting to me, but one thing black man #1 said to me was that he told the two Hispanic women that he would wait with them until some help came, since his tire iron didn't fit.
I was the first to leave this scene.  I don't know what happened after that, except that at some point they left too.
As I think back on this, I think this one situation, in Alabama, has totally defied what the media pushes and what seems to be popular opinion.  If you are not from Alabama, then you should know that what the media pushes on you ABOUT Alabama is not true.  Racism does not run rampant like they want you to think.  I think this story illustrates that.
Now, for a deeper thought...
When I told you that my conscience "flared up" more than normal, what I really mean is that I think the Holy Spirit was guiding me to go back.  I think its interesting that as I drove 7 miles to get to the next turn around, and 7 miles back (that is a total of about 15 minutes or so drive time), that maybe that 15 minutes worth of changing a tire was meant for me to do.  I'm still thinking back on this moment in time, but I saw something very cool in those 15 or so minutes that I was there with those four other people.  I am certain that I don't know to full volume of that 15 minutes.  I would really like to hear the perspective of the other four people involved in this story.  I mean, if you are one of the black men, you would say "this white guy stopped to help two black men and two Hispanic women".  Or from the perspective of one of the Hispanic women: "two black men and a white guy stopped to help".  It would probably be even more interesting to hear their "whole story" about that day. I cant say with certainty, but I do think that all five of us where there, in that moment of 15 minutes, for a reason.  (It was actually longer for those four.)  I think if the Holy Spirit was involved, and I do believe He was, then I probably know just a little bit of the whole of that story.  I don't tell you this story to say anything special about me.  I tell you this because of the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now, one more thought about #8 above.  Were they waiting on me in particular?  Maybe they would say "anyone that could help".  But from God's perspective, were they waiting on me?  I don't have that answer, but its an interesting question.
I think of Acts 9:10-19.  Not to the same scale, but what if there actually was a bigger picture in that 15 minutes?

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