I see them all the time-license plates that carry a message most often understood only by the owner.

Mine says IBLEVNU.

I love to look in my rearview mirror and see people mouthing the words. "I believe in you."

These "vanity plates," as they are called, seem to be offered in most every state here in the United States.

I once wrote a story about a wonderful woman who held a sign in the window of her car that read "Heartwarmers" as she drove by. She had read a story of mine there and recognized my license plate. Small world.

"IOU1" read the plate on the car in front of me. Normally I'd just read it and continue on, but this one had a handwritten sticker next to it and I knew I had to meet this person.

He wasn't headed where I wanted to go, but this seemed more important. So I decided to follow him. Luckily he pulled into the post office in town. Otherwise, I might have been writing this from on the road somewhere.

I got out of my car and approached the man.

"Excuse me, sir. May I ask you about your license plate?"

"You wouldn't be the first one," he said as he kept walking.

My curiosity kept pace with him as he entered the post office and stayed with him until he returned to his car.

"I understand the 'IOU1' on your plate. I've said 'I owe you one' many times in my life."

"Did you pay up?" he asked with a smile.

"Pardon me?"

"Did you pay back the ones you owed?"

"Oh, sure... I mean I guess I did. That's something you say so freely after someone does you a favor. I guess I meant it," I told him.

"Well, I'm still working on this one," he said.

"That sticker you have next to your plate. Is that part of it?"

"It surely is. It'll take the rest of my life to pay this one back," he said.

He then stopped at the door suddenly, almost causing a pileup of people behind us. "In fact, it could probably take two lifetimes to pay this one back," he said.

We continued out the door heading back to his car.

"Would you mind telling me what happened?" I asked.

"No, not at all. It's part of my payback. I promised to tell as many people as I could, any time and any place."

He then stopped behind his car, leaned on the trunk near the plate and began to tell his story.

He went on to tell me about an accident he was in with his family. The car had flipped over and his youngest daughter, still seated in her child seat, somehow flew out the car door in the accident. He was pinned inside. Hanging upside down the only thing he could see was the back of her car seat sitting about ten yards in front of him.

Not being able to free himself, he prayed for her.

"God, if you make sure my baby is alright, I'll owe you one," he said in his prayer.

She was. They found her sitting there untouched and smiling.

That explained it all.

His license plate read "IOU1" and the sticker said "God!"

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