Excuse me, sir . . . uh, Pardon me.
The raised yet hesitant voice came from the gravel entry into our farm driveway. The black gentleman’s call turned me to his direction. He was on foot and I looked beyond him to the road. The four-lane highway passing our place linked Tulsa to Dallas and bore the weight of unnumbered vehicles each day.
A long Buick sedan rested on the northbound shoulder, it’s trunk lid open.
On my Tulsa-to-Cody bus ride my mind revisited that day of a year ago. How did I rally the courage to share my faith with that stranger? And how did I then draw back from another stranger – who asked me of my spiritual life – just hours ago?
I’m sorry sir, the Buick-driver offered, but would you have a tire jack I could use? I got a flat just now and my jack is busted.
Drawing a jack from dad’s Oldsmobile I joined the visitor. We moved toward his car.
Where are you headed? I asked. Eyeing the flat tire, we exchanged general comments – about travel. About weather. As if the elements were listening in, a chilly gust delivered a shiver along my spine.
As we loosed lug nuts and cranked the jack I felt a tug from inside. A sense that I needed to share something of Jesus with the traveller. My pulse picked up as I considered what to say and, as importantly, how to say it. He topped my age by fifteen years at least. And he was – in the language of the day – a negro, a man of another race. My mind went to our town’s Five and Dime Store of only a short while back. Displaying a pair of drinking fountains side-by-side. Twin porcelain fixtures – except for the defining labels above them. One marked COLORED, the other, WHITE.
Could I ask you, sir (my turn to employ the polite term), do you know Jesus Christ?
He studied my face a moment – mining it’s features for sincerity perhaps? Or anything.
Returning to his work, he secured the last lug nut with the tire iron.
I mean, sir. . . do you know God In a personal way, as your Savior? Jesus gave his life to save you – make you right with God. He did that for me, too.
The lines of his forehead snugged together. He was thoughtful, not resistant or offended as far as I could tell. My relative calm in the moment surprised me. We deposited the wounded tire into the trunk, shut the lid and dusted our hands. I felt the inner tug again.
Have you trusted in him? Are your sins forgiven?
A short pause and his reply.
No, I haven’t, really. Though I know I do need to.
That’s all any of us really need to know. He loves us and just waits for us to turn to him.
Well, He displayed a stirring. I think I’m ready to do that turning.
We waited together. The busy highway seemed miles away.
Would you be O.K. kneeling with me here? We can ask God together.
Without hesitation he knelt to the pavement. I joined him. I felt elated, but tenderly so. Like in a holy place. Of joy. God’s presence meeting us on Highway 75 – and Tulsa-bound traffic breezing by.
Our prayer together was simple – uncluttered. An offering of confession, birthing of new faith.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
We stayed kneeling a few seconds longer. The car’s bumper served us well – an altar of chrome. We rose from our knees and smiled at one another and embraced. A union of common son-ship conferred by a shared Father. Brothers.
He entered the car and resumed his journey – with an added destination and travelling companion.
Lord, up here in the Northwest now, would you bring my heart close? Near to you. Like on that day? Lead me to a family of believers. A church family in Cody – I’d like to feel at home.
A familiar accent lay in wait, for just the right time.
©2015 Jerry Lout