Are you familiar with the story in the Bible about the Good Samaritan? Here is the summary from Wikipedia:
According to the Gospel of Luke (10:25-37) a Jewish traveler is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a Samaritan comes by. Samaritans and Jews generally despised each other, but the Samaritan helps the injured Jew. Jesus is described as telling the parable in response to a question regarding the identity of the "neighbour" which Leviticus 19:18 says should be loved.
My oldest boy has been learning a song about the Good Samaritan, and we've been singing it over and over in the car. His children's choir at church is putting on a little musical next month, and he's already learned most of the music. I'm pretty proud.
Like the Good Samaritan if you care you can see a need
Like the Good Samaritan if you're there you can meet it
Like the Good Samaritan if you care you can change someone's life
So be there, care, share the love of Christ*
Like I said, because we've been playing the CD in the car over and over for him to learn the music, our whole family has learned this song. It's got a catchy tune, simple lyrics, and the backup band is fun. But you know, if it really boils down to it, in the car is pretty much as far as that story has gone for me. I haven't exactly played it out in real life recently, ya' know?
I bet your city is a lot like mine where you see the occasional homeless person panhandling for money by the side of the road. You know the type -- cardboard sign asking for handouts. Our city unfortunately has been overrun with this, and although there are probably a few honest folks out there, for the most part it is a whole network of people that beg for money for their living. This means that most of the time I turn a blind eye, although on occasion, I've handed over a bill or a McDonald's gift card, knowing all the while that it might go to purchase alcohol instead of food, but just praying all the same that God would use my bill (or gift card) to bless them just the same.
And I bet your city is a lot like mine where you sometimes get approached by a person in a parking lot (especially downtown) asking for a handout. It's pretty common 'round here. I think I've actually become desensitized to the whole thing. And to tell the truth, we all know that it's really important to be on guard and safe and watch your surroundings in these situations.
All that to say, I honestly haven't been much of a good Samaritan lately. Not in the truest sense of the story, at least. And because I am so immersed in what is happening in my own little corner of the world, I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't even noticed this about myself. Until recently.
I'm married to a Good Samaritan.
He doesn't toot his own horn on things like this, but this is a story that has honestly really affected me and convicted me and inspired me all in the same fell swoop. Maybe you'll get something out of reading it as well.
A couple of months ago my husband came home to tell me about something he did that day. He was at Walgreen's to drop off a prescription, and out in front was a man (who appeared homeless) asking for help. The man wasn't specifically asking for handouts like we normally see, but for help. According to my husband, the guy was in his 30s, in a wheelchair, missing all of his teeth, and pretty darn shaggy in appearance. So obviously, people weren't lining up to help. And I'm ashamed to say I would probably fall into that category if I had seen him there**.
Like the Good Samaritan, if you care, you can see a need
My husband told me that he had a super busy day that day, and that he had no business stopping because of how much work he had to accomplish. But he said that he felt a very strong tug on his heart, that this man was placed in his path for a reason. Simple as that. So he stopped.
Like the Good Samaritan, when you're there, you can meet it
Long story short, the man shared with my husband his story of needing to get his prescription, but having no money because someone had just stolen his wallet. This was not the first time he had had money stolen. It has happened over and over to him. Being that he suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and is in a wheelchair, he is a target. Recently he even had his teeth stolen from him. Can you imagine? And there was one instance of his being beaten up so badly after being robbed that it actually made the local news. My husband later checked it out online and found out that the guy was telling him the truth.
On this particular afternoon, this man was not asking my husband for much, just help. My husband found out how much his prescription was for (I want to say it was super inexpensive, $5 or so), and after picking up the prescription, my husband drove him home. The man never asked him for extra money, etc. He just seemed extremely grateful and thankful to God that my husband stopped to help. He told my husband that he had sat there almost all morning with no one ever stopping even to ask. My husband was the first and only one after many hours.
Like the Good Samaritan, if you share you can change someone's life
From what my husband learned that day, this guy is trying to make it on his own. I don't know if you know much about MS, but it's quite the crippling disease. Apparently this man was a pretty normal healthy guy once, played basketball in high school even, but then MS started to take over his body. It got to the point where his mother was his primary caretaker, but at some point she moved here to our city with him, got tired of the responsibility, and left him here by himself. And I guess he's been on his own ever since. He obviously is getting help from the state to make his bills, but he tries to do everything he can on his own, like taking the bus to go grocery shopping, etc. He even told my husband that although he qualified for an electric wheelchair, he didn't ever want one because he would lose more muscle if he stopped having to use his body to propel his own chair. A guy just like many throughout the world -- dealt a tough blow and simply trying to survive, but dodging roadblocks and setbacks every step of the way. And all alone.
So be there, care, share the love of Christ
I was skeptical when my husband first told me he had stopped to help someone at Walgreen's. Just like any other wife, I didn't want him doing "something stupid" or being taken advantage of or worst-case-scenario, getting in an unsafe situation. But after hearing the full story, and especially the fact that we didn't hear back from the guy asking for more help or more handouts, I came to realize that this was a true blue Samaritan opportunity that thankfully my husband recognized and obeyed.
Fast forward to this past Tuesday -- my husband and I were about to have a rare lunch date and had plans to get some Chicago dogs from Sonic and eat them at the park. But he got a call about an hour before we were going to leave, picked it up, talked for a few minutes, hung up, and looked over at me. He had to cancel our lunch date.
To say I was a bit peeved and disappointed is the truth. But after hearing his story, all I felt was ashamed that I was honestly so selfish.
As you might have guessed by now, the phone call was from that guy. He hadn't contacted my husband since that day a couple of months ago, but this was a call from him asking for help. He was in the hospital with a bad case of pneumonia, and my husband's number was one of the only ones on his cell phone. In fact, when my husband went up to the hospital, the guy pretty much told him that he was his only friend.
I don't know about you, but I don't have just one friend. I'm not living without a single family member nearby. If I were to go to a hospital, there would be a long enough list of people that would be concerned, that would want to help, that would be praying for me and loving me.
But again, I was a bit skeptical thinking, here-we-go, now he's going to latch on to my husband, and my husband is going to take this on as his own personal charity case thinking he can save the world, blah blah blah. (Again, I'm just admitting my own faults here. At least I'm honest.) Thank heavens I don't wear the pants in this family. My husband went up to the hospital with his laptop in tow, and over the course of an hour or two, he got lots of information and set to work. One of the first things he did was call the Social Security office and get some things cleared up in the man's favor that had been mistakenly screwed up. He also was able to find out the deal from the doctors and nurses and extend the guy's stay a few more days until he is well enough to leave on his own. Being the savvy and well-connected businessman that he is, he made several calls and sent several emails to organizations in our city to help get the resources this man needs. My husband is such a caring guy that he even felt guilty about one thing: apparently the guy appeared to have a pretty bad cold or something when he helped him out that first time, and my husband was horrified it turned into pneumonia which landed the guy in the hospital. Somehow he felt that he should have recognized that as well and helped even more. What can I say? My husband is over and above a super compassionate guy. But the wild thing is the one request from the man that was so in-your-face-that-this-is-a-God-thing: he was told he needed a hospital bed. So the man was asking my husband if he knew how he could get a hospital bed donated or for a great low price.
Get this: just that morning, my husband had gone for a quick breakfast at his favorite diner a couple of miles from our house. He is one of the "regulars", so all of the waitstaff and many of the other regulars know him by name. One of his fellow regulars was chatting with him over coffee and asked him if he could take a look at a hospital bed he had, and if he thought he could sell it, find a person to use it, etc. He knew my husband is in the medical sales field. Although my husband does not deal in hospital beds, etc., he was nice and took the guy's name and number regardless to see if he could help him out since he does know quite a bit about that field.
My husband and I don't believe in luck or coincidence or any other explanation for something like this. This was all orchestrated by God, the One who cares for each and every one of us. Even if we don't have a single friend in the world, He cares and loves us more than anyone else in the world. He already had already anticipated this man's need, and He had already orchestrated the solution for that need. He just needed a willing Samaritan to obey and be used.
So my husband, who normally would have no idea about getting hospital beds, etc., immediately had a resource for this guy.
I'm sure this won't be where the story ends. It's our prayer that this man will not only heal from the pneumonia, but that God would work in his life, that God would continue to help provide the resources and support this man needs to survive, and that God would be glorified through it all.
I think we all could learn a little from my husband. It's time for me to take the blinders off, throw away the tunnel vision that I've been very comfortable wearing, and start listening to God and seeking out the opportunities He puts right in front of us. Now I'm not saying you need to go pick up the next homeless man you see on the side of the road, but if you'll just tune out the world and all of it's pressure for us to be self-focused and tune into God and how He wants us to be Christ-focused, it's amazing the opportunities you'll begin to recognize.
So be there, care, share the love of Christ.
**Music and lyrics by Kathie Hill and Melody Morris for "Donkey Tales", a "3-in-1" kids' musical
**Of course, being a male, it is obviously safer for my husband to step up in this situation than it would be for me, so I just wanted to stress to you all that I do understand the importance of being smart, being wise, and not putting yourself into a situation that would possibly be unsafe. I'm sharing this story simply in the hopes that we would all be reminded of God's call to live our lives like the Good Samaritan and that we would tune our hearts to be on the lookout for the opportunities God places in our path.