image courtesy of

image courtesy of

I have checklists. Sometimes mental, most times in my barely readable chicken scratch on my legal pad, but always urgent things to do, and clearing the multiplying checklist is my daily priority.

One of the items on my daily checklist was to meet and exchange a preliminary design of a plan and to give a brief overview. My fellow multi-tasker and I devised a scheme to cheat the clock a tad by meeting in a shopping center parking lot right off the loop 101 interstate.

I was on time, she was tardy to the party… not by much, but I count minutes like an inmate does his last sixty… I had my truck backed into a space backward, strategically parked under the shade of a healthy Palo Verde tree. I was making and taking phone calls, devouring my checklist like Pac-man does cookies and cherries.

I spotted a little gold single cab Ford Ranger make its way into the parking lot and move with uncertainty diagonally across the empty rows in the ghostlike parking lot. He stopped two rows across from where I was parked with my windows down and driver’s door open.

I could hear the starter cranking the little engine that didn’t want to until it finally coughed and fired and made it all of across another row of parking spaces when it called it quits for good just across from where I was parked.

I could see the dark complexioned man with the smooth shaved head that sported gold-framed sunglasses that have been reborn from the seventies, lean over his steering wheel as he held the key and ignition twisted in the forward start position.

He continued to crank the little engine that wouldn’t until it was obvious the mini pick-up had taken the rugged-looking young man as far as it was going to in its present condition.

The tall and well-built man took matters into his own hands, legs, and feet. He hopped out and shoved the little floundering truck with ease across one more row of the faded parking lot and spaces, just one space down from me under the next available desert shade tree.

By the time I finally got off the phone he was off his too and back inside his truck, his chin buried in his chest.

“Is it overheated or not getting gas?” I called out to him.

His head snapped in surprise, “Uhh – it’s gas – I’m outta gas,” he answered with chagrin.

“I gotta meeting here any minute now. When I’m done I’ll help you out,” I told him.

His dark eyebrows rose above the gold-framed sunglasses in surprise and question, “You sure?” he asked.

“I’m sure,” I answered, “Soon as I’m done I’ll take you to the gas station.”

As I drove the young man to the gas station we talked about peripheral details that don’t truly matter to total strangers. I told him about the time I ran out of gas eighty miles out into the desert in the middle of the summer. I chuckled at what was once a serious mistake. He smiled with understanding and gratitude.

Sometimes I think we’re not called to be the voice of God… just His heart and hands…

It’s an amazing gift to hear truly genuine thankfulness in another person’s voice. That day I was divinely reminded that sometimes our urgent checklists aren’t quite as pressing as we make them out to be…