A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

Adding To The Tank

September 7th, 2010

My great uncle, L.D. Thompson, farmed with my Dad and my Grandfather in Iowa. L.D. was a kind and generous man, always helping his friends and neighbors. He also enjoyed playing a good practical joke, most often on those same friends and neighbors.

It was sometime around 1951. L.D.’s cousin Burdette Carlson came out for a visit from Illinois. Burdette was in auto parts and some of the dealerships he sold to were in Iowa. So he used L.D.’s place as a home base from which he made day trips to take care of business.

Burdette drove a Buick Roadmaster. He bragged to L.D. more than once about what great gas mileage it got. When gas is 19 cents a gallon, it doesn’t matter too much what kind of mileage you get. But Burdette was proud of it just the same.

L.D. thought he’d help that Buick get some really phenomenal mileage. So every night after Burdette had retired for the evening, L.D. went out and added a few gallons of gasoline to the tank.

After several days of this, he casually asked Burdette how the Buick was running. “Great! It’s hardly using any gas at all!”

Burdette went back to Illinois at the end of the week. L.D. made a point to call him a few days later.

“How was the gas mileage going back?”

“On that first stretch, it was terrific! Just unbelievable! I’ve never gotten mileage like that in my life. But on that second tank of gas it dropped off something terrible. I can’t figure it out.”

Our family still laughs about it. L.D. has been in heaven for a few years now. Burdette is still alive and kicking in his 90’s. And to this day he’s still scratching his head about that crazy decrease in his miles per gallon.

There’s no getting around the fact that life is difficult. We all have struggles and battles to fight. We live in a broken world where hurts are deep and many and real. But I wonder…is it possible that we’re doing as well as we are, even in the hard times,  because other people are pouring into our “life tank” without our knowing?

Elmer and Margaret Franks were members of our little Baptist Church for as long as I can remember. He sang and she played the organ. Wonderfully kind people, I still remember them shaking my hand and congratulating me on the day I got baptized and joined the church in the 4th grade.

Fast forward many years to adulthood. I’m home visiting my parents and they tell me that Elmer is in the nursing home. His health is slipping and he probably won’t be around much longer. I drive to see him and find him laying in his bed, weak but still smiling. We visit for a bit and then he says, “I want you to know that I have prayed for you every day since the day you were baptized.”

What do you say to that? “Thank you” doesn’t begin to cover it.

We said our good-byes and I walked out knowing I wouldn’t see him again this side of heaven. Driving away I thought about everything I’d experienced since 4th grade. The good. The bad. The sad. The ugly. And I wondered how Elmer’s prayers for me likely helped my good be better. My bad and sad not be as bad and sad as they could have been. And how just maybe his prayers during the ugly times helped make the difference between quitting and pressing on.

Elmer poured prayer into my life for decades and I never knew it.

When it comes to the people in our lives, let’s be purposeful about adding to their tank.

God knows we all need help to get further down the road.

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of  your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:3-6

Todd A. Thompson – ASliceOfLifeToGo.com