Thursday, June 28, 2007

My Cup Runneth Over. For $26.88

We'd rented a car for a few days, as we've got some driving to do and I can save most of the rental charges in gas money, since Peg's Jeep doesn't get terrific mileage. They delivered the little gold Taurus this morning, with 1/4 tank left, so I stopped to fill it up on the way home.

I was just getting back in when I was approached by a tall gentleman who asked if he might ask me a favor. I said sure and he said "I'm not asking for anything in my hand, but I came out this morning without my wallet and I'm about to run out of gas. I just need enough to get back home". I asked how much he needed and he said "Just $4 or $5 .. a gallon and a half, maybe. I'm not a bum or anything."

He was tall and reasonably dressed and his wife was in the back seat of the little white PT Cruiser. Since we're in the South, I'll add this although it's just a statement of fact; he was a black gentleman, and perhaps age 60. So I can imagine the humbling nature of his having to ask.

NOW .... we'd been approached by numerous (apparently) panhandlers at the SBC and I never know what to do. But I was struck by this man's demeanor and expression and everything else and the Lord wouldn't let me get by with leaving. So I went around and did the credit card thing at his pump (adjacent to mine) and told him to get some gas.

He put in about $4 worth and started slowing down. I couldn't keep silent .. it was weird .. and I said "make it ten". He looked at me for a second and said "Aww .. you don't have to do that." I said of course I didn't, but go ahead anyway. He thanked me profusely and started pumping again.

He stopped about $9.90 and said that was close enough, and God still wouldn't leave me alone. I said "Fill it up". I have to say that his expression was worth whatever a tank of gas could possibly cost. I added "The only reason I'm doing that is that Jesus would want me to .. and that I can. And I need to do what I can." He was slow to start the pump again, so I grabbed the nozzle and finished the fillup, to a chorus of "God bless you" from the gentleman.

He asked me my name. I told him he didn't need to know that, it was the Lord providing the fuel, not me.

On the way home, I got into another wrestling match. I think this one was with a different spirit, though. Right in the middle of that, it hit me: God's a lot like that little episode. We ask, and receive a little, and then He gives more and more, and blows us away with His generosity. We ask, but He wants so much more than we even want for ourselves. So how could I do less for this man, who presented a need I could meet.

Downside? Isn't really any, that I can see. If he wasn't exactly who and what he said he was, it's his problem, not mine. And besides, standing at that pump, it wasn't really about him any more. It was about me and my Savior and whether I was going to do what I knew I could, or whether I was going to wish him well and go on my way with all my precious money intact. I'll leave that man with God, which is where I want to be, anyway.

I can identify with David when he said "My cup runneth over". Only in this case, it was a gas tank on a little white PT Cruiser from Birmingham, Alabama.



Incidentally, I almost didn't write this. I don't want to point to me and say how swell I am. I know better. But this was an encounter with God, and I really can't not share it. Maybe it'll help someone to recognize those little encounters in their life, too.

10 Comments:

At 1:55 PM, June 28, 2007, Blogger Wes Kenney said...

You are swell though, not because you try to be, but because He made you that way.

Thanks for sharing this story.

 
At 1:56 PM, June 28, 2007, Anonymous marie said...

How wonderful it is to be used by the Most High God to bless others.

A small thing to you perhaps, but there is one couple in Alabama, that now knows for sure there is a living God that cares about them.

May we all have ears to hear when the Spirit whispers His instructions. Bless you, Bob, for sharing this with us!

 
At 3:10 PM, June 28, 2007, Blogger Kevin Bussey said...

I'm glad you did share it.

BTW, I need a little gas too! :)

 
At 11:09 PM, June 28, 2007, Blogger Jess said...

Once heard a guy (some dude named Piper) talk about giving money to people who ask - there's a whole spectrum, like your story ably demonstrates, from 'panhandlers' to people who genuinely and innocently have a need, like the gentlemen in your story.

Piper's talk, about these encounters we all have, really convicted me and, quite frankly, the Lord used it to change the way I act in those circumstances. I think it matches what you experienced when you said even if his need was not genuine it was not your problem, it was his.

Piper basically says the same thing. When a bum asks us for some change, most people ignore him, some people refuse, lesser still actually stop and dig out the .37 they have in their pocket. However, being mindful of the 'overflow' we have, not just materially, but spiritually, we all should give whatever is asked of us. (Doesn't Jesus talk about this too?) If we are presented with a need, whether it is genuine or not, it is our responsibility to meet it. If it is actually genuine and we don't meet it when we had the ability to, then we are held to account for that. On the flip side, if we give to someone and they turn around and misuse or even abuse our generosity, they will be held accountable for that.

From our own experience living overseas we have myriad opportunities to meet needs like this, usually from some of the worst crippled and deformed people you will ever see. It has been a real blessing to see how our own children have caught the generosity bug and will go out of their way to drop a few coins in someone's hat.

Thanks for sharing your story. May God use your obedience to his leading for his glory in ways we can't even fathom. Who knows who else saw that happen...

Blessings,
Doug (Jess's husband; I'm commenting from her account)

 
At 5:12 PM, June 29, 2007, Blogger CB Scott said...

Bob,

I will bring both SUV's over your way tomorrow.At what gas station do you want me to meet you?

cb

 
At 7:33 PM, June 29, 2007, Blogger Tim Rogers said...

Brother Bob,

As I read this testimony, God reminded me of Jeremiah 33:3.

The Spirit has used this story to inspire and convict me.

Blessings,
Tim

 
At 9:25 AM, June 30, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

CB: I'm in Indianapolis for a few days and I've been looking for you. Where are you?

You could probably make it here with two two fillups of them monsters you drive, and then I'd be happy to spring for a gallon and a half.

Hey what are friends for?

 
At 4:15 AM, July 03, 2007, Blogger Alycelee said...

Thanks for sharing that wonderful story.
I have come to appreciate the work that God is doing 'in me' in those very moments.
He is an awesome God.
Agape

 
At 6:59 AM, July 08, 2007, Blogger Michele said...

Thank you for sharing this! It didn't sound like a "tooting of your own horn" but simply a following of His leading.

And that's a wonderful message anytime!

 
At 7:46 AM, July 08, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks, Michele. I appreciate your ind words, and please do come back.

 

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