My Name is Joe

Changing a tire

We are all taking daily steps on life’s journey. Some days are good; other days fall short. Amidst the ups and downs, we wonder what we can really be doing. The following story about “Joe” illustrates a valuable lesson about caring and giving even through hard times.

Joe was driving home one evening on a two-lane country road. He’d been searching for a job with little success. Joe had been unemployed since the local clothing factory had closed, and things were really getting tight.

It was a lonely road, and he almost didn’t see the elderly lady stranded on the side of the road. Even in the twilight, he could see she needed help. He pulled up by her Mercedes and stopped.

He knew he frightened her. He knew he didn’t look safe. He tried to set her mind at ease. “I’m here to help you, ma’am. Why don’t you wait in the car where it’s warm? By the way, my name is Joe.”

All she had was a flat tire, and Joe fixed it quickly even though he scraped his knuckles a few times trying to locate the jack under the car. The woman asked Joe how much she owed him. She had already imagined all the terrible things that could have happened had he not stopped to help her. But Joe never thought twice about the money. This was not a job to him. It was helping someone in need. He refused the money, thinking how many times people had given him a hand. Joe told the lady that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance they needed, and Joe added, “…and think of me.”

The woman drove off and a few miles down the road saw a small cafe where she could get a bit to eat. It was a dingy place, but she went inside.

Her waitress came over and brought her a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. The lady noticed the waitress was about eight months pregnant, but she never seemed to let the strain and aches change her attitude. She had a sweet smile, and the woman wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Joe.

After the woman finished her meal and the waitress went to get change for a $100 bill, the woman slipped out the door. She left a note on the napkin, which brought tears to the waitress’ eyes when she read it. “Keep the change. You don’t owe me a thing. I’ve been there, too. Someone once helped me out the way I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, don’t let the chain of love end with you.”

Monetary TipThat night when the waitress got home from work, she climbed into bed. She was thinking about the money and what the woman had written. How could she have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard. She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered, “Everything’s going to be all right. I love you, Joe.”

On our journey there are many things we can do that won’t cost us a thing. They may not bring immediate return, at least not to the level we need at the moment. But traveling the journey with care and love is so important. At times a need arises that interrupt our usual activity. Too often we rush past these interruptions. If we notice someone who needs our help, we pass by. We’re late…or too busy…or think we need help more than the other person. We think, “Let someone else help them” or “Let them help themselves.” But if we stop…if we help even when we have so little…it will enrich us with inner gratitude that we’ve gone beyond the limited circle of ourselves, and it will touch others at seeing they are noticed, valued and provided for in difficult times and situations. And sooner or later our selfless actions will reap a surprising reward. When our motives are right the outcome can be unexpectedly great! Now is the time! Are we looking? Are we stopping? Are we helping?

Hebrews 6:10 says it so well. “God is fair. He will not forget the work you did and the love you showed for him by helping his people. And he will remember that you are still helping them.”