So there I was a few weeks ago driving home on a section of Missouri state highway in Texas County.

The scene was a familiar one and just the way I like it – lots of cows, grass and trees; no buildings, cars or people.

It was late in the day and I wasn’t giving much thought to anything at the moment. The temperature outside was probably about 56 degrees and the skies were cloudy. Pretty nice conditions, but a little cool to qualify as “shirtsleeve weather.”

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

Cruising along almost in complete auto-pilot mode, I travel over a small hill and around a bend and there’s this guy standing in the road in the opposite lane. Not on the shoulder – in the road.

He is facing away from me. I notice he has shoulder-length hair and is probably in his 40s. It strikes me as odd that he’s wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

Then I look closer and see that his right arm is extended as if he’s hitch-hiking. But he’s not “thumbing.” The arm ends at the elbow.

I drive by him and without stopping. I probably would have done the same thing even if the Chrysler mini-van that was rapidly growing larger in my rear view mirror hadn’t been there.

I’m not much of a gambler and I always consider a situation’s risk-reward factor. The way things are these days, it’s understandable why lots of people are – like me – hesitant to offer a stranger a lift.

But for some reason, this man’s presence really, really got me thinking. After I led my mini-van pursuer past him, a whole bunch of questions went through my head.

Who was that guy?
Why was he there?
Why was he dressed that way?
What is his story?
Did he lose his arm in a far away battle fighting for a questionable cause?
Did he lose it in an awful accident working to put food on his family’s table?
Or did a sovereign God exercising His right to execute a plan that can’t possibly be fully comprehended decide he would be born that way?

Who was that guy?
What was he doing?
Did his woman just dump him there?
Is he homeless and wandering without purpose?
Or is he just drunk and mindlessly staggering toward his next nap?

Who was that guy?
By not stopping, did I just avoid having a knife pulled on me?
Or did I miss the chance to help out a man with a higher education than my own who is going through hard times because of circumstances he didn’t cause, choose or have control over?
Or did I just drive by an angel?

Who was that guy?
What in the Sam Hill was he there for?
Doesn’t he have anywhere better to be?
Or was he hoping the next car to come by would take him somewhere better?
Or is he satisfied being nowhere?

Who was that guy?
Why wasn’t he me?
Why do I deserve to have all my limbs?
Why have I never had to dodge machine gun fire or worry about whether or not that box on the side of the road is actually an IED?
Who am I to decide who rides and who doesn’t?

Who was that guy?
I don’t have the answers.
But I thank my Creator that I can ask the questions.

Doug Davison is a writer, copy editor and advertising representative for the Houston Herald. E-mail: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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