Hitchhiking is not as popular as it was. Nevertheless, Brad has experienced being on both sides of the hitchhiking transaction. He wonders if it is something that Christians should be doing.
Contact us now if you would like someone to pray with you.
Have you ever picked up a hitchhiker…? or have you ever hitchhiked?
In Canada; as is the case in most countries, it’s totally legal to hitchhike. I was surprised to read recently however, that there are several states in the US that do not allow hitchhiking. These include New York, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wyoming.
Hitchhiking First Hand
In my last year of high school, I used to skip off on my back- to- back free periods. I wasn’t involved in sports teams or after school activities all that often, so I was eager to get home and hang out with friends who had already graduated.
School was a good 45-minute bus ride or 28 km from home, so walking the distance was out of the question. I didn’t own a car at 17, so I took to the roads to experience firsthand, the world of hitchhiking. It didn’t take me long to realize that more cars pass you by…. than those that stop!
The roads I was thumbing on were back roads… where traffic moved rather slowly. I could get a pretty good look at the driver of each car as it approached. It was often amusing and sometimes frustrating to see the different types of rejection. Some folks passed by while staring me down…frowning or scowling as they accelerated. Others would shrug or make gestures as if to say… “I’d pick you up but I’ve got this or that that’s keeping me from doing so.” Others would simply refuse to look at me; and of course, there were those that pretended altogether they didn’t see me.
The experience of being picked up was always exhilarating. How far would this ride take me? Who was it that had bothered to stop? What would we chat about on the drive? I always expressed heartfelt gratitude to anyone who stopped, as I truly did appreciate them pulling over for me, and I guess in some ways inconveniencing themselves for me.
Over the course of those hitchhiking experiences, I would have been picked up probably 25 or 30 times. That number is small in comparison to the number of cars that passed by. The endless stream it seemed…. took no pity on this young clean-cut teen with his thumb out, simply trying to get from point A to point B. That “rejection of sorts” made me vow to myself that if I ever grew to be a man, a man who owned a vehicle and traveled the roads, that I would always pick up hitchhikers. And that is a promise I’ve kept to this day.
For years my wife (who herself had never hitched a ride) feared hitchhikers. I think she bought into the movie stereotypes from the seventies when hitchhiking was at its peak and Hollywood was capitalizing on the fear element… to sell movies.
Whenever we’d travel and come upon someone hitchhiking, she would be rather insistent that I didn’t pull over. She would say: “They might have a knife.” “They might try to rob us.” “They might make us drive off into the woods, and then steal our car.” I found it amusing, but I knew her fears were real to her; so, when we were driving together, I would refrain from stopping, even though I felt a sense of guilt as I sped past the person on the roadside who was holding out hope that I might be the car with the nice person inside.
Over time, my wife grew in grace and began to realize that her fears were probably exaggerated. She agreed that we should pullover when we saw someone with their thumb out. After all, we are in the Maritimes, and it’s fairly unlikely that we were picking up someone that was extremely dangerous. I dare say if I lived in or near a large urban center where crime was rampant, I might be a bit more hesitant to pull over and stop for a stranger. I guess I’d let the Lord lead me in confidence on that.
There has certainly been a decline in hitchhiking since the 1970s, which is attributed to a number of factors. Lower air travel costs, the presence of more money in the economy to pay for travel, more numerous and more reliable cars, are just some of the reasons
Last week my wife and I were heading home from an appointment, at about 4:30 in the afternoon. It was raining, and the sky had darkened a fair bit. Just ahead we saw a man with his hand out, and we realized he was undoubtedly soaked from the steady showers. My wife said, “Awhh we have to stop”….which was my first thought as well. As we slowed and pulled over, we saw another silhouetted shape emerge from around the side of the man. There; with a thick wooly coat of fur, (that was also soaked from the rain) stood a large black dog. We were both surprised, and said a collective “Awhh”.
Our hearts went out to the stranger even more, knowing how many people had probably driven by…. because of the dog. It felt good to think we could assist, and get this man, and his best friend into a warm dry vehicle, and onward down the road closer to wherever they might be travelling.
With my wife’s window rolled down we asked the man if the dog would be ok in the back of the SUV, or if he thought they should ride together in the backseat?
The big dog began barking loudly, but the man assured us that she,
(Choco ) would calm down, and that yea, she’d be fine in the hatch part of the vehicle. I got out to help, and to open the backdoor, and Choco timed a big shake perfectly for me to take on a slight shower. That was okay. I appreciated that she was drying herself off before getting into the SUV; she was preparing herself for the nice warm dry ride.
We got Choco settled, and then the man got into the backseat with his bags and off we drove. No sooner had we left the shoulder of the road, Choco settled down, and we didn’t hear a peep. It was so cute.
Choco and the Hitchhiker
I love engaging people, and the conversation flowed back and forth between us and our passenger. We found out where he was headed, and we decided to drive the extra few miles so we could safely land him and Choco at their destination, warm and dry. Choco wagged her tail when it was time to exit the vehicle, and the man expressed his gratitude wholeheartedly. I thought of handing him some cash, but there’s a line that sometimes you decide not to cross, between being helpful and being “insinuating”. He appreciated so much us pulling over, as he knew it would be a difficult journey with Choco by his side. I appreciated his expression of gratitude, wished him well, and we left it at that.
Hitchhiking and the Good Samaritan
Whenever I pick someone up, I’m always reminded of the story of the good Samaritan. Not to shine a good light on myself, or to draw comparisons, but it is something that really is so easy to do, and can mean so much to the person on the receiving side. It’s as if you round a corner, and there…. God has put someone in front of you…a complete stranger, a stranger in need. You have the choice to pass by on the other side, or to simply pull over and assist.
The fact that Choco had emerged from the shadows will always make this experience extra memorable. Maybe it was that extra bit of challenge implied, to see if I was really up for the task…. was I ok to let my vehicle get a bit soiled and stained, to actually take on a bit of the “grit”?
As Christians; with God providing insight and the ability to reflect, we always come out on the other side of any situation, feeling blessed. I feel blessed today that I have the means to provide some help along the way. I feel blessed that I have been helped, and continue to be helped and blessed by good people around me. I feel blessed above all, to know that God is my father in Heaven, and that he loves and cares for me, and his promise is the same to all.
Acts 2: 39 says, “The promise is to you, and to your children and to all that are afar off, even to as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
The next time you see someone with a “thumb out”; if it’s safe to stop, pull over and give them a ride. You’ll never know what the next “Everyday Encounter” has in store for you, and you’ll come out on the other side feeling that you’ve received more than you’ve given. That’s the way our GOD works.
Brad offers up practical, scriptural advice from a perspective borne out of everyday life encounters. As we live and move and have our being…it’s the individual life lessons that most often present the greatest challenges, but can yield the richest blessings. We’ve all, as Christians had those faith affirming moments, where we’ve had an overwhelming sense of God’s spirit, or his very presence “at a particular but, maybe random time”.
Brad was born and still resides in a small community in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, where he and his wife Karen raised their 3 children. Brad & Karen fellowship at the Greenland Bible Chapel, where Brad serves as an elder. Brad loves meeting and engaging with people. His background in sales has provided opportunities to travel throughout the US and Canada, networking with people from all walks of life. Brad is a singer/songwriter, and has recorded 3 Christian albums. Songs from his “Brighter Day” release, have aired on Christian Radio stations across Canada and two of Brad’s albums are on HopeStreamRadio’s playlist.
You Might Enjoy These Posts About Creation:
Crawford Paul – The Treasure of Heaven
Don Salmans – Living a Life That Counts
Gary McBride – Practice Peace
Greg Reader – An Unfamiliar Culture
Images Courtesy Of:
Hitchhiker with Hoodie – Free-Photos
No Hitchhiking – CIker-Free-Vector-Images
Road – Free-Photos
Rain – PublicDomainPictures
Highways – Pexels
Black Dog – FotoArt-Treu