I drove through a winter wonderland that honed my frazzled nerves with a razor. Every intersection was an obstacle course and every curve treacherous. Feeling the car’s rear end swing, I flirted with the brake pedal. Almost in slow motion, the front end dove into the sloping shoulder and with a loud crunch, landed firmly in the ditch. Pressing the gas pedal resulted in an ominous spinning sound and with a groan, I switched off the ignition.
Mom and Dad would be waiting at home, Christmas brunch still warm in the oven. My teeth clamped as I prayed - if only I could make it there, I’d be sure to make it work at my little church.
The rural congregation I led was in upheaval, various members unhappy and programs grown stagnant. After the despair of my failure to smooth things over, I was determined to go home for Christmas Day and enjoy some peace and quiet. Now this blizzard trek was going to freeze my comfy dream.
An hour later flashing tow truck lights creeped towards me and I flagged down an enormous red truck. The young man driving shook my hand in his heavy glove. Upon his direction, I climbed gratefully into his spotless cab with the smell of nutmeg faint in the air. The lid sat open on a container next to me and upon inspection I was confronted with the temptation of freshly baked gingerbread. After the sound of clanging metal, I heard him whistle as he swung open the door.
“Let’s get her out now.” He gently pressed the accelerator, coaxing my car from her bed of snow. With a wave at the container, he obtained the remainder of my gratitude. My attention was focused on the four cookies I devoured, marveling at the slight infusion of nutmeg.
“The rear axel is damaged real good, she ain’t drivable. Where you off to on this fine morning?”
I sputtered through a mouthful of cookie crumbs, “You call this fine?”
He grinned. “Well it’s Christmas after all. Ain’t this the day the Lord has made? Begging your pardon if you’re not a Bible believing Christian, but I’ve been one all my life and that’s just that.”
With a smile I assured him I was, explaining my vocation and where I was headed. He nodded and asked for the address of my parents.
“I can’t ask you to drive all that way. Isn’t there somewhere local I can leave my car?”
“Nothing open around here today. It ain’t no trouble at all Pastor, make it my Christmas present to you. No charge now.” He wouldn’t hear any argument. “You just sit back and enjoy the beautiful snow.” I shook my head at his strange view of this hazardous weather.
He drove carefully as we finished the cookies and drank a thermos of hot chocolate stashed in the glove box. After a comfortable pause in our conversation I glanced at him curiously.
“Why is it that you’re out here on Christmas Day? Don’t you get the day off to celebrate, considering your faith and all? I take it your boss doesn’t sympathize.”
He chuckled. “My dad’s my boss and we’re both out today. Weather like this keeps us hopping and with mom’s provisions,” he motioned at the empty container, “We’re ready to help.”
“But doesn’t your family want to be together today? To get away from work?”
He frowned slightly. “If I got a job to do, why do I wanna get away from it? We figure the Lord’s blessed us with this business. I ain’t never thought about getting away from it, ‘specially when people need us.”
He began to whistle again and I chewed on my thoughts. Where would I be without him today? My church family came to mind and the reality of my own business stung my heart. This remarkable young man had given up his holiday to fish people like me out of danger. He had provided warmth and nourishment when I needed it and was going out of his way to take me safely home. All with no reward to him.
My eyes closed and my head hung. Confessing my selfishness and impatience, I asked Jesus for direction on how to better serve my little flock. The determination to emulate my Lord and the servant spirit of this young man grew inside me as I began to whistle, noticing how beautiful the falling snow was.
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