If it were only you

I don't always stop to offer someone a ride. It depends on where and when.

This guy wasn't really looking for one, but he looked like he needed a friend.

I was headed out to do some grocery shopping when I came across a young man walking along side the road. He wasn't hitching a ride. I saw no vehicle broken down before or after seeing him. It was hot and muggy and the look on his face as I passed by seemed more like "I'm dragging the world behind me and I simply can't take much more of it."

I was right.

"Hey, do you need a ride?" I asked.

"Not really," he said with a sigh.

"It's hot out. I thought you'd like to cool off a bit."

He stood there looking at me, waiting perhaps for me to try more convincing.

"Okay, I thought I'd ask," I said as I rolled up my window.

"Wait, okay. I'm just going to the other side," I heard him say.

The other side meant he was going to be using the highway to get across the river. It's not the safest thing to do and I believe they have signs posted against pedestrian and bicycle use.

"How are you?" I asked.

"Terrible," he said. "But thanks for asking."

"I understand that!" I said.

He looked surprised when I said that. I think he was expecting me to offer some comforting words. I wanted to but sometimes you need to join them before you can win them over.

"Where exactly are you going? I might be headed that way," I said.

He told me. He could have told me anything and I'd be heading that way, too.

Sometimes when people really need to talk all you have to do is ask the right question. It's like when you let go of a balloon that is inflated to the maximum. They go all over the place.

"So, what's wrong?" Good question. He spoke for the next ten minutes almost non-stop.

At the end he said, "That's why I think God hates me."

That was my opening.

"I understand that!" I said. He now thinks I'm on his side and we both think God hates us.

I went on to share a bunch of examples of other people I knew who were struggling. One story after another. I then wrapped it up by saying, "God must hate us all!"

We looked at each other and didn't say a word. I think he knew by now I was making a point.

I smiled and said, "If it were only you who had such problems then maybe you'd have a good case for God hating you. The truth is it isn't just you. God's not out to get you. He gave us a special gift when we were born. He set standards for how we should live and then he gave us "choice."

All of the things you spoke about came about from bad choices you made. Each of them can be resolved if you make better choices now.

If it were only you, you wouldn't have had any other choice, you'd be doomed to fail from the start.

God doesn't hate you. He doesn't hate me. You and I and all those people I spoke to you about are loved as much as anyone else in this world.

You are uniquely His. He loves you as if it were only you to love."

I had already pulled over near his destination. He was looking straight ahead, his eyes blinking more as he struggled for a response.

"Thanks," he said. "I appreciate the ride."

"God told me to," I said. "I haven't picked up a stranger on the side of the road...ever. He doesn't send me strangers."

I never got his name. I have no idea where he lives. I will never see him again.

I needed him today as much as he needed me.

I was talking with God just before I saw this guy. I was rambling on just like he did and then seconds before I stopped I heard this response from God...

"If it were only you."

He proved to me it wasn't only me. By helping someone else, I helped myself.

Bob Perks

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