The older I get, the less willing I am to stop along a road, even a well-traveled one, to give a ride to a stranger. There have been too many stories of tragedy befalling people who offered a ride to someone who seemed to be in need. On the other hand, at least three times in my life 1 have been one of those strangers on the side of the road who needed help, and I was grateful every time that someone stopped to help me.
Nevertheless, my fear continues to this day to interfere with my natural desire to help someone in need. There was one time, however, when God intervened to help me to offer a ride when it was needed. It was in May of 1980, and I remember that only because I was completing my first year of seminary in Bangor, Maine and I had accepted a four week assignment to lead worship in two little remote towns in far eastern Maine known as Pembroke and Robinston.
The shortest route from Bangor to these two churches lay along a road so winding and bumpy that it was known as "The Airline." It was also 125 miles long. Because I was from Massachusetts, the idea of driving that far, except on a business trip or to see a long-lost relative, was beyond my experience. So I went to bed as early as possible, knowing that I needed a good night's sleep to be up early on Sunday morning so that I could arrive on time for worship. I was to find out, however, that I needed more than sleep to prepare for what I would have to deal with on my way to those churches the next morning. So the Lord sent a dream to help me.
In the dream I saw myself driving along a highway lined with evergreen trees and very little else. All of a sudden, an older man with a gray clergy shirt and wearing a suit and hat appeared alongside the road in the middle of nowhere. Clearly, this man in my dream needed a ride because he was a long way from anywhere. That was the simple content of the dream.
The next morning I awoke, got up, and drove along "The Airline." I was about thirty miles into the country with no one else around when who should appear but the man in my dream wearing the gray clergy shirt, the suit, and the hat. I had just a few seconds to react, and I decided to listen, not to my fear, but to the dream. I pulled the car over to the side of the road and offered him a ride. He was very cautious and wanted to know who I was and where I was going. After he got into the car he explained to me that he was an itinerant minister from California who felt he had been called to travel to New Brunswick, Canada to lead an evangelical crusade of some kind. He told me that he had spent the night sleeping in a car in a junkyard just a short distance from where I found him alongside the road. That made me wonder just what kind of a person I had picked up. Worse yet, I was a little suspicious of his clergy credentials—a wallet-sized card, that he showed me. On the other hand, who was I to question someone whom the Lord seemed to want me to help along his journey.
We traveled another sixty miles along that forsaken stretch of highway before I had to turn off at a little town known as Alexander. The man got out of the car, wished me a good day and went on his way. I have never seen or heard about this man since, but I have often wondered who he was and what God meant for him to do. What is clear to me is that God meant for me to pick him up, despite our mutual uncertain ties about each other, and bring him a little further along his journey. I have always assumed that God had some thing for him to do and all I needed to know was that I was supposed to help him along in that journey.