Last Sunday after church and lunch at a Mexican restaurant, I drove past a broken-down car with the owner, a young woman, sitting on the ground with a grubby child by a flat tire. The contents of her trunk were strewn in the dirt. She was speaking on her cell phone.
I thought about stopping. But I had a full suite of things on my ToDo list.
I had noticed that many other cars just drove on by. The scene reminded me of the Good Samaritan story.
I turned the car around and came back. Rolled down my windscreen and asked the woman if I could help. She was talking on her cellphone when I interrupted her. She asked me if I had a spare tire donut, which I did not.
I was stumped and didn’t know what to do. So I asked if she had AAA, the car service company. She said no.
I didn’t know what to do again.
She turned to me and said thanks for stopping, but she would be okay. She continued on the phone.
I drove away reluctantly, wishing I could have helped.
I was an uncertain Samaritan. Motivated to help, but not knowing how to help. In retrospect I should have asked her if I could call AAA and pay for her membership. Then they would have sent help. But I missed it.
I wonder if this is why church people don’t often stop to help strangers – because they might not know what to do, and this is uncomfortable. I suppose the Good Samaritan knew what to do, because there lay a man in the ditch, obviously beaten up. He probably thought, I’ll patch the man up and get him to a hotel where he can recover.
But in truth, like me, the Good Samaritan was probably afraid of not knowing if he could help. The beaten-up man may have been dead. Or too ill to be moved. Or he may have died on the way to the hotel. Yes, there was uncertainty.
Plus there was also fear that it might have been a trap – that the bandits were waiting behind the ridge for the Samaritan – ready to beat him up and rob him.
All this helped me understand why its difficult to be a Good Samaritan in 2019. But I’m still glad I stopped the car and offered to help. Here’s why…
I’ve often said, if you offer to help someone in need, God can amplify your help. That didn’t happen, because I didn’t help her in any tangible way. But at least the woman may have appreciated that someone cared enough to stop and offer to help. This is one way we can be light and salt to the world in need.
Offering to help is love in action. And it can be much more effective than witnessing words, which can turn people off.
Today is one week later. I drove after church to an event called Noonday, which feeds homeless people. My church sponsors this event once a month. I had missed a couple months through traveling but wanted to do my bit once again.
I dried the dishes – the plastic plates that the meal is served on as well as large steel containers used for cooking and serving food. I spent a couple hours on this task as well as wiping down tabletops after the people had eaten. About 15 folks from the church (men, women and children) served 50-70 homeless people.
But once again I was uncertain. I don’t know what to say to homeless people. I’m sure Jesus circulated amongst some people who were homeless, and I wonder what he would say to these people in Albuquerque. The sermon on the mount? The Lord’s prayer? How God can lift you up out of this condition? That God loves you?
In our event this noon, a few Christian songs were sung. And a brief message was given – first about God’s love and second about Paul the apostle’s message about faith, hope and love. I kept thinking: if I were homeless, what would I take away from the message? What do I want to hear that would help my life?
The best thing about the event, for me, was love in action. We provided something tangible. We fifteen members of the church provided a handsome meal for 50-70 itinerant homeless folks. I was glad that I went. That two hours was spent not thinking about myself but helping someone – not like me – to hope.
I once wrote a blog about a bad Samaritan – me – when I blew an opportunity to be a good Samaritan. To read about this fun story, click HERE (then hit back-arrow to return to this blog article).
PS: I write blogs about three topics: Science and Energy, Health and Hiking, and Inspiration and Hope.
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The Gray Nomad ….. Let your compassion feel.
Helping people not like us – love in action – is where the rubber meets the road for those who follow Jesus.