What Would YOU do? Have mercy or walk on by?
In preparation for the summer camping season I had volunteered to help do spring clean-up work at a Christian camp in the Front Range of the Rockies in Colorado. It was an exhausting day. We moved rocks and logs and what felt like mountains (no pun intended). I plopped into my Jeep Cherokee at the end of the day and began the 20 mile trip back down the mountain to my home in Boulder.
When I came around a bend on the road, there was a young girl reaching out her hand as if to try to wave down my car for help. My first thought was that she was using one of her arms to hold up the other as she reached out, but I couldn’t be sure since I only got a quick glimpse of her as I sped by.
In the five seconds immediately after I passed her, I had a conversation with myself. Several thoughts raced through my mind:
· First, I thought, I am exhausted, all I want to do is get home. Helping this person would probably take a lot more time. Haven’t I done enough for God today?
· Then I thought, what if it’s a scam? What if when I stop to help, someone jumps out of the bushes, hijacks my car and murders me?
· I also thought, she seemed somewhat attractive. What if someone who knows me as a pastor, and passing by, sees me pick her up and accuses me of an indiscretion? Or what if she, herself, accused me of something?
· In addition, I thought, this is a busy road. Someone else is bound to stop and help her. I shouldn’t feel as though I am her only alternative.
All of these thoughts flashed through my mind in five seconds! The last one however, was the one that prevailed. I thought; God would want me to stop.
I have to be honest, when God’s desire got through, I didn’t rejoice. I didn’t do flips and say “Oh goodie. I get to hear and obey God’s will.” Instead, I groaned, right out loud. I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to get home.
Amidst my groan I pulled the car to the side of the road and came to a halt. I put my Jeep Cherokee in reverse and backed it up to where the girl was. By the time I got there she was sitting on the ground and looked to be in great pain.
I exited my vehicle and asked, “What happened?”
With a weepy voice she answered, “My bike hit the loose gravel on the side of the road. The wheels went out from under me and I fell into the ditch. I must have been going twenty or thirty miles per hour. I hit the ground really hard. I think my arm is broken.”
I looked at her left arm and there was no question about that. She had scrapes all over her arms and legs as well. I also looked at her bike and it was out of commission as well with two bent wheels.
She said, “I have been here for about half an hour. I’ve been trying to wave someone down but I have had trouble standing up and no one could see me from the ditch. Finally, when I was able to stand, I had trouble getting people’s attention because I had to hold myself with my good arm but couldn’t hold the broken one out by itself. When you came by I mustered the strength to stand without holding myself up, so I was able to hold my bad arm up with my good one. Thank you so much for stopping to help. I was beginning to think no one else would.”
As she described her dilemma the shame in my heart just kept building. I helped her into my jeep and put her bike in the back. All the rest of the way down the mountain, in between bits of conversation I was having with her, I repented before the Lord.
I said, “Lord what a wretched man I am. Please forgive me for my selfishness.”
Per her request, I left her off at her house and leaned her broken down bike up against the porch. She felt it would be wise for someone else to take her to the hospital so she would have a ride home after they set her arm.
I found out that day that I have a little “Levite” in me. Much like the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan, I was a nanosecond away from leaving that injured girl on the side of the road to fend for herself. Yes, even me, a pastor!
Here’s the story…do you relate in any way?
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” -- Luke 10: 30-37