Still Special

9 08 2015

I was recently reminded of one summer day when my buddy and I were out cruising in his brand new Pontiac Lemans. With a 12 pack of PBRs chilling in an ice chest in the backseat, we didn’t have a destination; we just wanted to ride for we felt on Rock _ntop of the world and were enjoying the day too much to have a care; that’s about the time he came into view. This old man was walking along the highway wearing a long coat lugging a dirty cloth satchel over his shoulder. He looked odd donning a winter coat on such a hot day and he was moving so slow that we felt the need to stop and give him a lift. I climbed in back and as soon as he got in the car the oder this man carried nearly made us sick. Underneath that big coat were at least two other jackets and maybe two shirts. My friend stepped on the gas and we rolled down all the windows to get some air circulating before we lost consciousness! This weary traveler opened up all the shirts and coats down to a t-shirt to let the air hit his body and then closed his eyes for a spell; not knowing how long he had been out there I’m sure he was completely exhausted. Trying to talk to him was futile as we soon realized he was completely deaf, so I took a beer out of the cooler and passed it up to him. He didn’t spend a minute drinking it straight down. Passed him another with the same results; finally on the 3rd bottle the major portion of his thirst have been quenched and he now took his time drinking. It was at this point he began to unfold a portion of his life’s story.

“I live in Toledo at the shelter but when I was your age I used to be a test driver for a major tire company down in Akron. One day it occurred to me I was never paid my last week’s earnings; $42. So I walked all the way there to get my money, took almost a month but I made it. Talked to a guy at the front gate of the company and told him my story. He had me wait there while he went inside. When he came back he had the money in hand and said, yeah you’re right, here ya go.” Sensing his mental fitness was not what it should be, we had no way of knowing if he actually made it all the way to Akron or not; figured he got confused and stopped at the first factory that seemed familiar, probably a security guard took up a collection from people working there just to get him to leave. He took out a plastic baggie of cigarette butts, rolled two or three in a cigarette paper, lit it and started again. “Yeah back in the 30s and 40s I would go out on a test track and drive as hard and fast as I could so they could see how well their tires would hold up, they even took movies of me that played in theaters showing off my skills behind the wheel.” A long pause before, “Yeah I was something special back then.” Other than some mumbling we couldn’t make out, he didn’t say another word.

When we got to Toledo we asked directions where the shelter was located and dropped our new friend off in front, but not before sticking a $20 bill in his pocket, I guess maybe to make ourselves feel good for helping the old guy. As we drove away I could see him in the side mirror watching us until we were out of sight. Perhaps in that moment he was remembering a time when he felt on top of the world and enjoyed life so much he didn’t have a care; maybe he hoped we’d turn around and take him with us. Who knows, but years later when I thought about this chance encounter I wondered what became of the old test driver; and just how much difference really was there between him and me.

I thought of a quote I used carry with me, “When something bad happens you have three choices. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”

I don’t know what happened in that man’s life, but evidently something that took away who he saw himself as and what he believed gave his life status. I’ve seen it several times over in others including me. When I realized my reach for musical stardom was at an end, I would still look back at those days as having more importance than what lay ahead of me in other opportunities, even if they didn’t bring the accolades of many, there was still worth to my life.

For me that lesson came home to roost when I gave my life over to Christ and learned He had a purpose for me, just as He has a purpose for all who believe on Him.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

Many, like today’s “Traveler of the Rock Road,” have seen when the path ahead of them is smooth and easy, even rewarding, but do not know what to do when the road becomes rough. That, my friends, is where the hand of God and the fortitude He puts in each of us won’t take us back to the past, but can certainly brighten our future. The choice is ours.

“Don’t be afraid to keep moving on, for what was before, now has gone. God wants to accomplish so much more, but we need to move forward in the Lord.” M.S. Lowndes

See ya next time!




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