"John, what are you doing?" I asked my husband as he slowed down and pulled over to the side of the road.
"I'm going to pick up that hitchhiker." He told me.
"Why in the world would you want to do that?" I asked. "John, he could be a mass murderer for all you know."
"I don't know why I'm picking him up." John said as he began to back up to the man who was walking quickly up to our truck. "There's just something about him that makes me feel sorry for him. For one thing he's old. And for another look at him. He's actually kind of clean. At least his clothes are clean."
I looked back and watched the old man as he made his way to the truck. He really did look harmless. With his old cowboy hat covered with pins that spoke of Jesus and faith. He was dressed in what looked to be a new pair of overalls and a white long sleeve shirt. The only thing old and ratty looking on him had to be his tennis shoes. Both pair had the top cut away from the toes.
I scooted over next to my husband as the old man threw his back pack into the back of the pick-up and opened the door. "Howdy folks." He said as he climbed into the truck. "My name is Thomas, and I'm so glad God told you to stop and pick me up. I always love meeting new friends."
"Where you headed?" my husband asked as he maneuvered the truck back onto the highway.
"Oh, I'm really not for sure this trip. I know I'm going to Mississippi for a little while. But I may head on over to Tennessee before I turn around and go back home to Texas."
Meanwhile I'm sitting there between the two of them as close to my husband as I can get without sitting in his lap.
Thomas looked over at me, then at my husband. "What's the matter son, your power steering gone out?" He asked with a smile.
Startled John turned, "No, why do you ask that?"
"Well it seems to me that it's taking both of you to drive this truck." He smiled at me. "Or is it that your afraid of me, little Missy?"
Glancing over at him I gave him a quick little smile. "I guess I am a little afraid." I answered him truthfully. "These days and times you can never be too careful."
Thomas nodded his head and agreed with me. "Your right about that. That's why I don't hitch- hike."
I must have looked puzzled at that statement because he began to laugh. "I know, since you two picked me up walking from the side of the highway you consider me a hitchhiker. But did I even look up when you passed. Or did I in any way show that I wanted a ride. You see honey; I place my faith in God. He knows when my old legs get to hurting and my strength starts to give out and he sends some kind souls like you to pick me up."
About this time we make it to our destination which would have left Thomas at least 30 or 40 miles from where he was planning to stay the night. But he didn't even grunt when John pulled into the store. Just turned and thanked us for our kindness as he was getting out of the truck.
"Wait Thomas," my husband said. "Give me a few minutes and I'll take you to Mississippi." Which was only about twenty miles away. We did most of our shopping in Greenville, Mississippi.
Smiling brightly Thomas nodded and returned to the truck. John got out and went and attended to his business, when he returned he took Thomas to Mississippi.
"Thank you both so much. I really appreciate this. Here take this tape. This is my ministry. I copy these sermons that I love from different pastors and place them in truck stops and phone booths, anywhere it might get noticed. I also have my name and address on the tape. I would love to hear from you. Just drop me a line."
It was several months later that I spotted Thomas again. This time he was walking in the opposite direction. I got up ahead of him and pulled over. "Hey Thomas, I'm not going far but I can give you a lift."
Climbing into my car he turned and smiled. "Why thank you Vicki." He actually remembered my name.
"How have you been?" I asked him as he settled himself in the front seat.
"Good and gooder," he replied with a large smile.
"Where are you heading today?" I asked.
"To your house if you'll have me. I have a tent, I'll just camp out in your back yard."
"You're more than welcome to stay at my place." I answered. "I think John would love to see you again. He's been thinking about you a lot lately."
"Great! I was going to stay in Montrose tonight in the police chief's yard but neither his wife nor him is going to be home tonight. I was afraid I was going to have to spend the night in the woods. I'm not afraidto stay alone, I just like it better when I have someone to talk too."
I invited Thomas to stay in the house but he wouldn't do it. But he did eat supper with us. I drove him out of town before letting him out the next morning. I also handed him a little money that John had told me to give him. He tried to refuse it until I told him it was to help buy tapes for his ministry.
This was the beginning of a wonderful relationship. Thomas would stop by on his way to and from Mississippi, several times a year for three years.
Then the last time he came through it was winter and so cold. Thomas was sick and I refused to let him stay outside. "You know what little Missy?" he said. "You might be right. I think I'll take you up on your offer and stay in the house tonight."
That night I talked my husband into letting me take Thomas as far as ElDorado. Thomas had told me he had other friends there who could take him home.
"You ready to go Thomas?" I asked him the next morning. I was so worried he didn't look good. He was so pale.
"Yeap, little lady. You don't know how much I'm ready to go." He replied as he climbed into my car.
"Thomas please reconsider and let me take you to the hospital. You are really sick." I begged as I drove him out of town.
"No Ma'am they'd take me from the road. And I aim to die on the road. Doing my part for Jesus."
Thomas told me about all the friends he had made in his travels and also about his love for God on our trip. He talked about every thing except his illness. Every time I tried to bring it up he would pat my hand and say "Now little Missy your worrying over nothing. I have more important things to talk about." and he would change the subject.
As he was getting out of the car at his friends house he leaned back in and said, "Little Missy I'll be back right after Christmas and before New Years if the weather allows. You folks take care of each other until then."
It was after New Years and still no sign of Thomas. I was beginning to worry. Was he Okay? He had been so sick. Finally, I decided to see if I could find out anything about him. I knew he sometimes stayed at the police chief's house in Montrose. So I made a visit to the police station.
"Hey Bill." I said as I entered his office. "Do you have a minute to talk with me?"
"As a matter of fact I do. What can I do for you today?"
"I was wondering if you and Charlotte knew anything about Thomas. The last thing he told me was that he'd be back after Christmas. I haven't seen or heard from him since."
"I'm sorry Vicki, but Thomas has cancer and is dying."
In my heart I had known it was bad. But I had hoped for his sake that it wasn't. "Oh, Bill. Where is he? Surely they haven't placed him in a hospital to die. That was his biggest fear."
"Nope. He's living in a home there in Texas. Some of the townspeople are paying for his stay. And from what he's told me he's in great spirits. He told Charlotte that he's just waiting around for Jesus to tell him to come on home."
"Thanks Bill." I said as I turned to leave the room.
"Charlotte said something the other day that made sense. Thomas is an angel sent from God to test us. Do you really think that any of us this day and time would have picked up a hitch hiker?"
Smiling I shook my head no and left.
Now I know that this story does not have a happy ending in the world's viewpoint, but in Thomas' world it ends with a joyous new beginning. A new place to travel. New sights to see. And he still gets to do what he did best and that's talk and make friends. He'll just do it in a new country called Heaven.