We add the price of every item, always rounding up just in case, and cheer out loud when we come within pennies of our goal. Walking out of the grocery store, I grin and nod at the first two girls to ever steal my heart. They grin back, hop on the backs of our two shopping carts, and propel their improvised scooters through the parking lot to where we always park the Bagabus–downhill.
After loading the van, young legs power the carts back uphill to the cart return while I pull the van up to the gas pumps a few feet away. We huddle outside, laughing and chatting as I push the inordinate number of buttons required to fuel a vehicle in the twenty-first century.
And then he shows up, his clothes a little ratty, his hair a little messy, his eyes a little hopeful.
“Times are tough,” he explains. I agree. They are.
“Outta gas. I live way out in….”
“It’s okay,” I interrupt. “I’ll help you out.”
“Really? God bless you. Oh, God bless you all.”
And I watch and calculate as the numbers click higher on the gas gauge, his container growing full while my van sits empty, the warning light reminding me I do not have gas to get home.
I watch as he asks God’s blessings on my children, and I mentally review my best kung fu moves should he show the least sign of questionable behavior.
I watch his eyes carefully, looking for signs of deceit as he thanks me and God-blesses me and I inexplicably thank him back, and I do not regret helping him, even if he is lying.
I watch him walk back to his buddy and talk as they pour my liquid gold into his hungry truck, and I imagine them mocking us and our kindness and our naivety.
I watch as we drive by and he waves and thanks us and God-blesses us and I wave back and know I did not do enough.
I did not give him gas to get Home.
Not once in all my watching did I open my mouth to share with the stranded man the fuel he really needs to get through the tough times, to get Home to God’s arms. Not once did I share with him the joys of Jesus. Not one word did I speak from the message of Life that every man needs to hear before their bodies run out of gas.
He spoke God, but I don’t know if he knows God. I know God, but I did not speak God.
I gave that man more gas than I could afford and a warm smile on a cold evening. I gave that man nothing.