Taking The Long Way Home

In 1996 when I was nineteen years old I left home to attend a Christian college 100 miles away. At first it felt like 1,000 miles because I wasn’t used to being away from home for more than a week during summer camp. So that first semester I came home almost every weekend (I adjusted and by my second semester I barely came home at all).

First Weekend Home

traffic on highway

The first weekend I came home I had no money and only about half a tank of gas. But I felt confident that I had enough to get home where Mom would feed me and Dad would put gas in my car (maybe I was a little spoiled as the baby of the family). So I cranked my Jesus Freak CD up loud and set off in my little 1992 Geo Metro named Wilma.

As I approached the exit for the highway that led straight to my hometown, I noticed they blocked it off because of construction. I drove down the service road about a mile trying to figure out what to do. Then I saw another highway that I was sure also led to my hometown. Even though I had never gone that way before I just knew it would get me where I needed to go. How I “just knew” I don’t know.

I Was Wrong

wrong way sign

So I set off on this highway, still feeling confident and singing along to the music. It’s only supposed to take an hour and a half to get home, so when 45 minutes went by and I still wasn’t seeing signs for my town I got concerned.

I pulled into a gas station and went inside to ask for directions. The attendant was an older woman who pulled out an atlas and pointed. “This is where you want to be and this is where you are.” I had driven 75 miles of what was to be a 100-mile trip and now this person was showing me I was still 70 miles east of where I should be.

I knew I didn’t have enough gas to get home and since I had no money I did the only thing I knew to do, call Dad collect on the pay phone outside and cry. I’m sure he was still trying to decipher the words between my sobs…. Glen Rose…. gas station…. no money… when someone tapped me on the shoulder.

I turned around and the attendant was standing there.

“I would like to put gas in your car so you can get home.” she said.


“Yes. If it was one of my granddaughters, I would hope someone would do that for them.”

I thanked her over and over and wrote down her name and address to mail her a check when I got home. She pulled out the map again and showed me exactly what roads I needed to take to get home. Less than two hours later I was home safe and sound.

Life Lessons

girl studying a book

I learned some practical life lessons from this experience. Like always be prepared, don’t set off on any road trip (even a 100-mile one) without money and only half a tank of gas! And the all important don’t take random highways unless you are 100 percent sure it will get you to your destination (and don’t wait an hour into the trip to figure out you’re going the wrong way).


man holding child's hand

With the passing of time I look at this story as much more than just a story about a silly girl learning some life lessons. When I look back at it now, I see God’s fingerprints, just like I do on many other events in my life. I went the wrong way and He graciously provided me a way home. I could have pulled into any gas station, perhaps with an attendant who couldn’t have cared less. But without me knowing it He sent me to someone He already knew would help me. And another woman got to be used by God that day to show his love and compassion towards a total stranger.

If you have gone the wrong way in life and you want to come home, I want you to know that Jesus is as close as the mention of His name. He’s not mad at you, He’s not holding a grudge, He loves you and wants to make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:6). Maybe I’m just the gas station attendant pointing out to you where home is. Or maybe God has sent you many “gas station attendants”. If you need prayer, I would love to put you on my prayer list. You can leave it in the comments or if you don’t want to post it publically, you can email me at barbra@gracegetsthelastword.com and I will keep it confidential.

For His Glory,

Barbra Jones

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