1 Corinthians 9:18
What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.
It is the summer of 1976.
Along with thirty other college students, I have completed and eight-week literature study of British authors in their native setting. Yes! Staying in London and Oxford and Edinburgh. Taking in all the marvelous sites these historical cities have to offer.
With plenteous bus tours to the countryside. Stonehenge. The Lake Country. Loch Ness. Salisbury Cathedral.
It has all been glorious!
Now, ten days of travel on our own stretch invitingly before us.
Weeks hence, three of us decide we will spend our free time in Ireland.
We take a train to Wales and board a ferry at the port of Holyhead.
Docking in Dublin, our first order of business is to rent a car. We have traced the routes we wish to take and sites we want to see, but, in our youth and naivete, we don't bother to reserve places to stay.
We'll just wing it! Hope for the best.
Why, there's bound to be a Bed & Breakfast anywhere we turn.
This is an adventure!
Aside from charging the obvious Americans what we all agree is a monstrous amount for a rental vehicle, we delightedly take the car. The nightmare of negotiating the hideous confusion of Dublin traffic and acclimating to being on the "wrong side" of the road is quickly and thankfully behind us.
We are out of the city. Into the country.
In the middle of nowhere.
It happens . . .
A flat tire. Which, none of us knows how to fix.
The only abode in sight is a modest farmhouse set 200 yards from the road. We head for it. Praying the occupants will kindly allow us to use the phone.
A humbly dressed woman with a pleasant face and a smile betraying the loss of not a few teeth greets us. We learn, to our chagrin, there is no phone.
"But, my husband will be here shortly. I'll send him to help you," she graciously assures us.
Within moments of returning to our car, a ram-shackle, out-dated pick-up truck rattles and coughs down the road to the house. It is the woman's husband. Who, immediately upon reaching home, turns promptly around and heads our way.
He nods politely and gets straight to work without a word. Our chorus of thanks fall on deaf ears. In ten minutes, our tire is changed and we are good to go.
We try to pay him for his help. Compensate him for his time.
He's down on his luck. We know he could use the money.
The farmer holds up his hand and shakes his head in firm refusal. When we insist, he simply climbs into his truck and roars away.
Just like that . . .
Have you ever been helped by a stranger who desired nothing in return?
Will you join me in prayer?
Thank You, Father, for the blessed souls in this world who selflessly give of their time to meet the needs of others. May we all show the same caring and kindness as this farmer in Ireland did to three hapless and wayfaring strangers so many years ago. Grant us the grace to do so. Amen.
Psalms 95, 88 or 91, 92
1 Corinthians 9:16-27