My car needed gas, and so did I. I stopped at a travel station offering a Dunkin Donuts (yum) close to the highway. After pumping gas, I moved my vehicle to a parking spot in front of the store to go in. I did not see him sitting on the curb but heard him mumble, “ma’am, a few dollars?” as I passed by.
First, I never have cash and I don’t typically enter conversations with strangers while traveling alone. It was an afternoon, the sun was shining, and something in my heart said, “listen.”
Several years ago, I had traveled to the Charlotte area to take our niece to meet some friends and was returning to the Raleigh area for our son’s middle school basketball game. The gentleman on the curb looked at me with his hand out and I felt the nudge to help. I explained that I did not have any cash but planned to go inside and I asked him to join me so I could purchase some food for him. Shyly, he rose and followed me in. I told him to get as many hotdogs as he wanted and load them up the way he liked. After, we gathered chips and a few drinks. At the register, I paid ($6) and handed him the bag and wished him well. He went back out and I headed to the restroom.
Once I was inside the bathroom, I realized I was trembling. Why? I never felt in danger at any point. I realized that the shaking was nerves. I was nervous about helping. Worried I would offend him, or not purchase the right things. I stressed over how I spoke to him and seemed to be holding my breath. Being kind and doing for others should be a natural act, not one causing anxiety.
Gathering myself, I headed to the Dunkin Donuts section of the gas station for my coffee. As I placed my order, a gentleman behind me told the cashier that he would pay for my coffee ($2). He explained how he had observed from outside what I bought for the man and how it had warmed his heart. I thanked him, and headed on my way.
Entering the game, late because of traffic, I found a $10 bill on the ground. Then the lady running the ticket table told me that the game had already started so no need for me to pay. The fee would have been $6. I thanked her and entered the gym for the remainder of the game.
Afterwards, as I was sharing the days events with my husband, I began to do the math. My act of kindness cost me $6. In return, a gifted $2 cup of coffee, $10 found on my path, and free entry to a $6 game added up to three times my gesture. Did I have the $6 to spare? Yes. And then, God chose to repay 3-fold so that I would have the confidence to say yes again when prompted. And, so that maybe next time I could do it without holding my breath.
I love to share this story. It is a reminder that our rewards may not always be this immediate or so easy to calculate. But we will be rewarded for doing the right thing. Love and serve others as if they are Jesus, himself. This is what He commanded of us.