Recently, Jack and I were out running errands. On the way home from the post office, Jack said, “Does he need help?” I hadn’t been paying attention and didn’t know what he was talking about. Jack backed up a few feet to the entrance to the parking lot of a restaurant not yet open for the day. There on the sidewalk lay a young man with his wheelchair overturned beside him. He had tipped over going up the steep incline and fallen out of his chair. Fortunately, he wasn’t injured, but he was helpless to get back into the chair.
Jack and I got out of the van, righted the wheelchair, and tried to lift the man back into the chair. Although he was light and both of us are large, neither of us is strong and both of us are unsteady on our feet. I had to lean against the van to keep myself upright, and between the two of us we couldn’t lift the man.
Fortunately a young woman walked up, taking the same shortcut through the parking lot that the fallen man had taken. With her help, we lifted him back into his chair and checked again to make sure he wasn’t hurt. The young woman pushed his wheelchair across the parking lot and to the convenience store where each had been headed before our encounter. We drove to the store and made sure the young man purchased his soda and started home safely.
We read the story of the Good Samaritan in the Bible and wonder if we would stop to help or cross by on the other side. The man we helped hadn’t been attacked by robbers. He wasn’t injured, and we didn’t have to take him to an inn to care for him. But I hope he thought of us and the young lady who helped him up as his Good Samaritans.
Often we think that we have to do something large and important in order to make a difference in the world. But sometimes we called to make just a small difference in the life of one person. And it’s easy to overlook those opportunities.
I remember an incident from long ago. We had a small fire in the back seat of our car on a busy highway. Jack pulled to the side of the road, and we had to remove the back seat to put out the fire. Cars whizzed past at the speed limit (or faster), but no one even glanced our direction. We were able to get the fire out and the seat back in the car, but it would have been easier if someone had helped us.
When we were out running errands, I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings, and we would not have helped this young man if Jack hadn’t noticed him lying on the sidewalk. I’m going to keep my eyes open now. Who knows what opportunities I’ve missed by not paying attention?
Have you ever been in a situation where you needed help? Did someone give you aid? Have you been the one helping someone else?