The power of a $5 bill
Many years ago during the Christmas season, my wife and I were going to dinner with another couple who were very good friends. We were heading across the San Francisco bay and were about to go over the toll bridge. We waited in the line of cars and when we got to the toll booth, the man there told us that the car in front of us had paid our five dollar toll and asked him to wish us a Merry Christmas.
My friend Mike, who was driving, was completely blown away by this. This was the first time for any of us to have that happen and we talked about how nice it was all the way across the bridge and beyond. I remember specifically how Mike was just amazed, and even after the rest of us moved on to other topics of conversation, he'd come back to what happened at that toll booth.
Throughout dinner and after, Mike would occasionally mention that act of kindness with a kind of awe. It was clear that he kept thinking about it and was trying to figure out how that bit of unexpected kindness fit into his life and world view.
You see, Mike was a vocal atheist and never passed up a chance to try to disprove any religion. In his world, there were just people and most of them didn't do things for each other, especially strangers. It truly was "every man for himself." When these complete strangers used that five dollar bill to show him kindness, it was something that he couldn't imagine and hadn't experienced before. It shook his world view and I've often wondered if God had planted a tiny seed inside Mike that day.
I love that what happened was such a great example of how a small act of kindness can have a huge impact. Think about it, decades later I'm here at my computer telling you about it. That five dollar bill the strangers in the car ahead of us gave rocked my friend's world and the act still resonates to this day.
I'm sad to say that Mike and his wife moved back east a few years later and over time we lost contact with them. I often wonder what grew of that seed of kindness. I believe someone told me that he'd since accepted the Lord and was now a Christian. I hope that is true. In any case, I pray that Mike always remembers the kindness he was shown by strangers and that he passes that kindness on to others.
This memory is a great illustration of how simple acts of kindness don't have to be difficult or expensive and allow us to touch others in sometimes profound ways. God uses us in many ways to show His love. What those strangers did is what it means to be "us" when I say that "there's more of us than them."
"And as you wish that others would do to you, so do to them." Luke 6:31