This afternoon found me making a trek to the Raleigh/Durham airport to drop off friends who were flying out to see family for Christmas. As we made the exit from the interstate and passed the cheap gas sign at Sheetz, I mentioned that I needed to stop there on my way back to fill up my gas tank. After we said our goodbyes, I did make my way back to Sheetz.
I pulled in beside the pump and began filling the tank, hooking the latch on the nozzle so I didn't have to stand there holding it. As I was cleaning the windshield, I noticed a man wearing a suit and tie walking around the gas pump area, approaching individuals and engaging them in conversation. He finally made his way to the last pump where I was parked.
The man began telling me a story. He said that he and his wife had driven from Nash County and just dropped off his mother-in-law at the airport. At some point during the journey to Raleigh, the man had lost his debit card. His gas tank was on empty and he needed help. He told me he had asked others in the parking lot for help and they had been rude and ugly to him. He needed to drive only 16 more miles to get to his brother-in-law's house for Christmas. Could I help?
I finished filling my tank, completed the transaction and asked the man to pull his car up to the pump. I swiped my credit card and told the man to fill it up. He said, "No, I only need one gallon. That will be enough to get me where I need to go." I insisted that he at least let me put $20 worth of gas in his car. He said, "No, one gallon is enough." So, I responded, "How about $10 worth?" He insisted that he only needed one gallon and he pumped a little over a gallon in his tank, stopped and hung the hose back on the pump. The total charge was $4.00.
The man then asked me why I was willing to help him. I responded that I am a Christian and I try to help those who are in need. He told me that others had ignored his plea for help and had said hateful things to him. He shook my hand and said, "Thank you for being Christ to me today." From the car, his wife said, "Bless you." We said our goodbyes, wished each other a Merry Christmas and went our separate ways.
The best part of this story is not that I helped. I find the miracle of this story to be that the man only said he needed a gallon of gas and that is all he pumped into the tank. I really wanted him to fill the tank but he wouldn't do it. One gallon of gas and a grateful heart.
In this season of giving, I'm reminded that sometimes the smallest gifts can bring the greatest blessings to both the giver and the receiver.
What would you do?