By Roger Alford

You might have heard about the lady who went to the auto parts store and said she wanted a windshield wiper for her Volkswagen.

The quick-witted clerk pondered that for a moment and said, “OK, that sounds like a fair trade.”

I ran into a guy the other day who just might have been willing to make such a trade. His car had run out of gas and he was sitting catawampus smack dab in the middle of a four-lane highway. I pulled over to help, pushing the car to the shoulder as he steered. Once he was safely out of traffic, I drove to the nearest filling station to buy a can of gas to pour into his empty tank.

That man seemed so grateful for the help. I suppose all of us have had someone come to our rescue at one time or another. If so, we know exactly how he felt.

The Apostle Paul, who encountered some rough patches during his ministry, certainly would have identified with him. Paul was always careful to offer thanks to those who helped him. He mentioned them in the New Testament epistles he wrote. Sometimes, he even mentioned those who didn’t help.

One of the more curious people Paul talked about was a man named Demas. Paul mentioned him three separate times alongside Luke.

The first time, in Philemon 1:24, Demas’ name was mentioned before Luke’s. The second time, in Colossians 4:14, he was mentioned after Luke.

I wonder if that might have been a sign Demas’ passion for serving the Lord was fading?

The third and final mention of Demas was in 2 Timothy Chapter 4 may answer that. Paul knew his execution would be soon, and this is what he wrote to Timothy:

“Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica. … Only Luke is with me.”

Demas started out as a man Paul could count on. He was on the front pew, so to speak. Then, it seems Demas’ began to fizzle. He moved to the back pew. And, finally, he was out the door.

His is a sad story, but I expect many of us have known folks like Demas who started out on fire and then flared out. It’s heartbreaking when someone you count on walks away. For some, that may have been a ministry partner. For others, it may have been a spouse, a relative, or a close friend. In any case, you feel a sense of abandonment.

I expect the feeling was similar for the gentleman whose car had run out of gas on that lonely stretch of highway as people sped past without stopping.

I counted a great blessing to be able to stop and help. I don’t remember his name, but I will not forget the look of appreciation on his face.

I left there feeling the satisfaction of knowing I had helped a fellow man. and I wouldn’t trade that for a windshield wiper or a Volkswagen.

Reach Roger Alford at 502-514-6857 or

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