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The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.
-- Ann Landers


Daily Motivator Special Feature

Finding direction while giving directions

by Ralph Marston

“God put you in this world to help us today.” That was what the lady told me. And the moment I heard her say it I knew without the slightest doubt she was right.

I had stopped to get gas at a place where I almost never go. I had hesitated about cleaning my windshield. But then when the gas was almost finished pumping, I decided for some reason to go ahead and clean it. That’s what I was doing when she approached me and asked for directions. Had I not initially hesitated about the windshield, and then gone ahead with it, I would have been long gone.

There were two women, one middle aged, the other twenty-something, with a young child in the back seat. On a day when the temperature was headed well past 100, they were traveling in an old car with no air conditioning, driving from a town about an hour away.

“Can you tell us how to get to Mopac, sir?” She had a folded-up printout of directions from Google maps.

“Sure. Where on Mopac are you headed?” I asked.

She unfolded the printout and showed me the address. I knew it well, and started to get the feeling that this moment was meant to be.

“I know exactly where that is,” I told her. “I used to have an office in that building.”

My credibility thus established, I proceeded to direct her. Google had routed her along a couple of toll roads. But not wanting to pay the tolls, they had tried to follow along on the toll-free access roads and had become hopelessly lost.

I ended up giving directions to the older lady, and then again to her companion, who was the driver, while the older lady wrote them down. It took a while, because I repeated each instruction to make sure they understood.

In a sincere moment of gratitude, the older lady thanked me and observed that God had put me there to help them. The way she said it was so utterly matter-of-fact that neither of us had the slightest opportunity to doubt it was true.

What she could not have known (but in her faith-informed wisdom probably realized on some level) was that the whole incident helped me much more than it helped her. I had been having a very difficult day. In fact, the only reason I had gone to that particular gas station was because I wanted to take a little drive and clear my head.

As I replaced the gas cap, having sent them on their way, I suddenly realized that I felt better. A lot better. My head was clear. My cynicism was gone. The world made sense again.

I had not just given some quick directions and then hurried along on my way. It was not just a transaction with a slight element of kindness to it. I had been patient, and interested, and had taken as much time as was necessary to make sure they got it right. And in doing so, I had made a connection.

On that day, in that spot, in my life, a connection like that, an opportunity to make a difference, was exactly what I needed. And though I cannot claim to understand the forces and reasons that brought us together in that moment, I do know it was no accident. And I am sincerely and humbly thankful for the real, palpable goodness it brought into my life.

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