Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrew 13:2 KJV
After spending what I’m sure was a wonderful week or more in California, I hit the road back to Colorado, this time taking the southern route through Arizona. Despite being late September, it was a brutally hot day as I drove towards Phoenix. Along the 10 freeway in this part of Arizona, there are few exits, and even fewer places to stop for gas, food, or the bathroom.
As happened on the way to California in my previous post “Entertaining Angels – Part One”, I saw a figure walking in the distance along side the freeway. And I knew. I’d be picking this person up, too. Only he wasn’t hitchhiking. He was trodging, head down. And he was in trouble. Even though the temperature was pushing 110 degrees, as I pulled up next to him I could see that he wasn’t sweating. He was beet red and he was panting and he had no belongings, no water. He was wearing probably all the clothes he owned, including a heavy jacket. The sign for the next place where there were “services” indicated it was 10 miles down the road. I drove along side him with the window open telling him he needed to get in so I could get him cooled off. He was muttering to himself. I finally drove a little in front of him, got out and opened the car door telling him to get in. He did but he told me it wasn’t a good idea. I was busy wetting down a towel and some fast food napkins and putting them all over him, so I didn’t care if it wasn’t a good idea. I made him drink water. With all my years of experience as a nurse to help me, it wasn’t hard to determine two sobering things. One, this man was less than an hour from death and would not make it to the next gas station. And two, he was deep in the throes of paranoid schizophrenia.
I wasted no time in getting back on the road with the AC cranked to maximum and heading for that exit while the man sitting beside me had a conversation with someone unseen about how no, he wasn’t going to hurt me, because I was helping him. I sped up. He was rocking back and forth telling me to hurry because he didn’t want to hurt me. I kept encouraging him to hang in there, that it would just be a few more minutes, and told him to keep drinking water. Man, I was nervous. I was just praying that if I had to die that it would be quick and painless, but asked if I was going to get a prayer answered, let it be that I could just get the guy out of my car and to safety in time.
That was probably the longest six minutes of my life. But we made it. He had started to sweat by then (as had I) and wasn’t nearly as red, and he jumped out of my car as soon as we hit the gas station. I gave him some money. And I got the heck out of there.
No deep spiritual lesson in this one. Just that sometimes doing the things the Lord wants you to make you reeeeeally uncomfortable. I don’t know if either of these men I stopped to help ever made it to their final destinations, but I do know that both of them helped me along my way to mine.