A lesson in practical generosity: What He can do with unexpected delays

“Adventure begins when your plans fall apart.”

Clay Croft, Expedition Overland

Every once in a while, God reminds us that generosity comes in all forms. My family was driving home from spring break in Florida when the car behind us quickly and intentionally became the car next to us. The couple in the front seats waved their arms through the open window, clearly trying to tell us something. We slowed down just enough for me to hear the woman’s voice in the wind: the wheel bearing on our trailer failed and we were at serious risk for an accident. Suddenly, we’re on the side of the road outside of Montgomery, Alabama. Being that our offroad camping trailer isn’t your typical trailer, I couldn’t just go buy a new part from a box store. Even the local tractor trailer shop couldn’t help me. Instead, they directed me to a machine shop… where I met Lamar. 

Appreciation meets generosity

Bright and early the next morning, Lamar studied my broken spindle. After 60 seconds he paused, looked me in the eye, and said, “Don’t worry. We’re going to fix you. I’m just figuring out how.”  Then over the next two and a half hours, Lamar and his three-man team set aside their scheduled work and dedicated their time to rebuilding my part. When they were close to finishing up, I asked Lamar if I would need to replace this part once I got home. His reply was an emphatic no. They didn’t just repair it, they fixed it–for good. And he was right. I checked that wheel bearing what seemed like 20 times on our ride home, and many times since, and I’m convinced it’s stronger now than it was the day I bought the trailer. 

Lamar 2

Here’s the kicker: When it came time to pay up, Lamar said I didn’t owe him a penny. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “And don’t go saying you appreciate it, because I know you do. If I didn’t think you appreciated it, I would have charged the snot out of you.” 

A worthy life

We do Trail Life with my boys, which is basically Boy Scouts with a Christian worldview. They can earn The Worthy Life Award,  and part of it includes being able to explain and demonstrate the story of The Good Samaritan from Luke 10. Now, my family wasn’t injured on the side of the road, but we certainly could have been if it wasn’t for the couple who went out of their way to tell us we were in danger. My brother-in-law jumped online to research parts stores so I could focus on getting there before closing time. When my sons worried about leaving our trailer in an abandoned gas station lot while we slept, a man in a nearby house reassured them he’d keep a watchful eye and even offered to lend us tools. Lamar and his guys got us back on the road. So many good Samaritans demonstrated practical generosity in our time of need. 

If I would have allowed my frustration at this delay to take over, I would have missed the unexpected practical generosity at a roadside machine shop hundreds of miles from home. We get so focused on our day-to-day tasks that we can miss opportunities to be generous. Not Lamar! Not only did he set aside his schedule to help us get back on the road, he generously shared his skills and talents. Whether he knows it or not, Lamar set an example for my family and his employees of what it means to live a worthy life. It’s easy to overlook others, but when we don’t … man, what a blessing we can be! 

Generosity in broken plans

As we had pulled the car to the side of the highway, I could feel the tension building in me – our long journey home was about to get longer. My son Elijah’s voice piped up from the back, “Remember daddy, adventure begins when your plans fall apart!” Oof. Elijah didn’t know we were about to experience roadside generosity, but God did. God knows just when we need to give and receive generosity. He placed our “good Samaritans” in the right spot. We just had to trust Him in the chaos and stay open to what He can do with our “broken-wheel-bearing” moments. I pray He gives us all eyes to see and hearts to serve those in need along our path.