The Gas Truck

Originally published May 29, 2018

Back in the late 1980s a group went from Boulder, Colorado, USA to Juarez, Mexico to complete a simple block home that had been started for a Mexican pastor. There were eight or nine people in a van, representing at least four different churches from the Boulder area. Most of us really didn’t know each other. I believe they were all men with construction experience except me; I was just a young woman with some free time who liked to try new things. We had a good time working on the project in the blazing sun, and Joe Hart taught me how to use a Skilsaw to cut lumber for the rafters, and I felt very important. I remember the building wasn’t completely square, as it had been begun by well-meaning volunteers who perhaps had not mastered the art of cinder block construction, and it took a construction genius like Joe and the other fellows to overcome this and get a stable roof on the thing.

Feeling content and ready to head home after a few days of hard work, we piled back in the van and headed north. There was a shorter route through New Mexico which used isolated roads and was quite far from the busy highway. It seemed quite the intelligent thing to take this less traveled and shorter road. On we went, for mile after mile, on the endless winding road through the desert, with rare scruffy plants and the scorching sky glaring down at us.

Humming along happily, it was observed that there was a significant headwind that was pushing hard against the van and reducing our mileage; it was possible we might run out of gas. Each traveler reacted in his own theology; a few prayed silently, and several prayed loudly petitioning the Lord for a miracle or demanding the grace to get to a gas station before we ran out of fuel. I thought it was kind of great that there was freedom for many styles of prayer and no one correcting the theology of the next, we were just all in it together.

The wind howled, the dust blew, the van struggled against the elements, but nature prevailed, we ran out of gas.

Humbled and a little confused, we climbed out of the van and continued to ask the Lord for a solution. It was pretty quiet. There wasn’t much to say, just a lot to think about. I walked along the edge of the road and looked at my shoes and prayed too. There was absolutely no traffic on that road. I doubt anyone had a cellphone in those days, and I’m sure there was no service even if they did. This adventure wasn’t ending so well.

I heard Eb or Bud or someone say, “No. Way.”

Squinting down the road, from whence we had come, came a vehicle. Not just any vehicle, but a large vehicle with hoses sprouting out on both sides. Strangely it was a truck carrying diesel and other types of gasoline. We eagerly tried to flag down the driver, but it was obvious he was headed for us anyway. The truck rolled to a stop behind us and parked. The driver was a lanky man who was not imposing in any way, wore greasy work clothes, had very imperfect teeth, and fingers stained quite gray with his industry. His hair was somewhat long and unkempt, and it did not appear that he was a stranger to the elements of the desert.

I don’t remember the conversation, surely there was one, but basically the guy noted our need and filled up the tank with gas. The men tried to pay him for his trouble and the gas, but he declined, smiled a crooked smile, and swung back up into his vehicle.

And then to our amazement, he turned the peculiar vehicle around, and went back the way he had come. In other words, he had no other reason to journey north into the heart of New Mexico, it appeared he had only come to rescue us, an answer to prayer.

We decided he must have been an angel, or a fellow human sent by the Lord, and we drove on down the highway, each rejoicing in his own fashion. Some quiet and content, and others loudly praising the Lord. There’s room for all styles in the Kingdom, you know?

Editor’s note: The photo above is of the actual gas truck and was taken by Eb Roell.

Contributing author: Erika Norris

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