Last night when I sat down for my bedtime prayer/meditation, the face of the chaplain who runs the chapel at the local truck stop came to mind very clearly and I heard God say, “I want you to go talk to Tim.” (Tim’s the name of the chaplain.) So I was like, “ok, but tomorrow’s Monday and Tim’s not going to be at the chapel.”
God says, “don’t worry about it. I’ll arrange everything.”
Well, alrighty then. So I continued with my prayer/meditation time wondering why God wanted me to go talk to Tim. When I was done and about to go to bed, I realized that I hadn’t gotten around to putting gas in my car that day. Long story, but there’s no cash in the house and only one card for the bank account which my husband was going to be taking to work with him in the morning. And I have a broke kid who needs to be at his own job the next day. I had just enough gas to drive to the gas station and that was it. Because I’m super responsible like that. It was around midnight, but if I didn’t go put gas in the car before going to bed, it was going to be a messy situation.
So, I grab the card and load the dog up to be my bodyguard and headed to the truck stop. Normally I’d go to the gas station across the street, but I figured maybe Tim was pulling a late nighter or something and that was why God told me to go talk to Tim. Well, Tim wasn’t there, but there was this kid sitting on the ground outside the truck stop. He looked awfully young to be a hitchhiker, but drugs are a hell of a thing, so I ignored him. It’s not like I was going anywhere anyways.
I put $20 in the gas tank. Well not really, I put gas in the gas tank. Shoving a $20 in there is stupid. And I didn’t have any cash any how. But after putting gas in the car, I get in and look at the clock. It’s 12:34. One, Two, Three, Four. I’ve had this weird thing going on with numbers lately and it’s supposed to be angels talking to you, so I figure that must be God’s way of telling me to go talk to the kid.
I pull up to him, with the dog hanging out the window facing him just in case and say, “have you eaten? I can’t take you anywhere, but I can get you something to eat.”
He hasn’t eaten and is obviously exhausted, so I park the car and bring the kid into the truck stop to get some food. Turns out he’s this 18 year old from South Saint Paul, about 30 miles away from where we were. A friend had taken him to spend the weekend partying with some people in another town about 20 miles from where we were and had left without him the previous night. Now he couldn’t get a hold of his friend or anyone else to come pick him up, especially since he didn’t have any money to cover the cost of gas to offer.
I didn’t get the whole story, but drugs and people wanting to fight were involved. So, probably still a bit tweaked on whatever he was partying with, he decided to start walking. He had walked 20 miles through cornfields and on what he described as “the longest fucking road I’ve ever been on” that day. I was just impressed he didn’t get lost and wind up dead in a soybean field out by Podunk.
Once he had food, I suggested that he get some sleep in Tim’s chapel. His eyes lit up at the suggestion – he was obviously beyond exhausted. So I grabbed the doggie from the car and brought him to the chapel. There were a row of cushioned chairs that an exhausted 18 year old should be able to sleep relatively comfortably on. I told him I knew the guy who ran the chapel and if he happened to come in in the morning, just to tell him that I had said it was OK. He’d be good.
I felt bad just leaving him there, but I simply couldn’t drive into St. Paul in the middle of the night in my rickety old jalopy that doesn’t even go over 60 mph anymore. And really, there’s a price to pay for spending days partying and hanging out with the sort of people who leave you stranded 50 miles from home. Having to struggle through the situation he was in is a relatively small price to pay in the scheme of things and may well be a needed wake up call. He wore a cross on a chain around his neck and had probably spent more time praying that day than he had in his entire life. At least he had a full belly, a big bottle of water and a place to sleep.
Anyhow, normally I wouldn’t tell this story. Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing and all that. And I didn’t hardly do anything except spend $5 on a big gas station burrito and a bottle of water for the kid. But as I was going to sleep after getting home, it occurred to me that God must really love this kid. Here he is, some dumb 18 year old out doing drugs and who knows what else – one person out of 7 billion people. And God saw him and went to the trouble of arranging for me to show up to give him what he needed to get through the moment. That’s pretty remarkable if you think about it. His eye is on the sparrow, indeed.