Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Would you consider yourself a good Samaritan?

Luke 10:25 (NIV) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”
A few years ago, I was reminded of the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25 – 37) while I was stranded for 45 minutes at a local grocery store because my car decided it didn’t want to start. Leaving my groceries in the car, I headed back into store to see if anyone had a set of jumper cables. One of the cashiers was very happy to help but she had to ask for permission to leave her post. As I stood there and watched the conversation unfold between the employee and her boss, I noticed a slight hesitation on the part of the boss. I really can’t say with any certainty that this manager was overly excited for her employee to help. Her words said one thing but her actions were speaking an entirely different language.
The employee did finally get permission to leave her post and help me. Once we had the cables properly connected on both ends, I gave the key in the ignition to my car a turn…NOTHING happened (UGH! I really didn’t need this little interruption at all). Not wanting to take up more of the cashier’s time, I thanked her for her time and sent her back to work.
After the jump failed, I called my husband to inform him of my misfortune. “I am on my way.” GREAT! My husband was coming to help me out. There was nothing left to do but wait. I really don’t mind waiting (did I just say that???). Let me rephrase…I really don’t mind waiting when I have something to occupy my time (that’s better). Having just visited the doctor’s office, I had my trusty Kindle with me and a magazine full of recipes I purchased just a few minutes earlier. I left the hood of my car open and settled into the front seat of the car and began to read (and wait).
It was September and even though it wasn't a triple digit day, the humidity came into play as I was sitting in my car and I began to drip with sweat. 
“Ok, maybe reading in the front seat is not something I want to do at the moment.”
I laid my Kindle on the passenger seat next to me and got out of the car. It was slightly cooler…at least there was a tiny breeze blowing. I scanned the parking lot and noticed the activity of various shoppers. People were walking to and from the little stores in the strip of shops. After a few minutes of people watching, I thought about the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus told this story to a lawyer who had asked him (Jesus) about how to inherit eternal life.
In this story, a man has been beaten, robbed and left for dead on the side of the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. Two people passed the man that day and didn’t stop to help him. One, the Priest, saw the man and crossed to the other side of the road to avoid situation completely. The other, a Levite, was curious enough to stop and look at the man but didn’t offer assistance at all. It was the Samaritan who stopped, showed compassion and took care of the man’s needs.
As I stood just outside the driver’s door of my car with the hood up, obviously affected by the heat and humidity of the morning, I looked at the people as they walked by in an entirely new light. Some, took a quick look at me and then turned their heads, others shuffled in their purses or played with their keys. I wondered as I watched, what was going through their minds as they passed by. Did they take one look at me and my situation and decide not to get involved? Were they too busy to get involved so they just avoided the situation entirely?
About 25 minutes into my “wait”, the manager of the grocery store came out to see if I needed help with anything. I told him my car wouldn’t start and I was waiting for my husband to come to my aid. Something about the way he asked the question made me wonder about his sincerity. Did he really want to help me, or did he want me to take my “situation” out of his parking lot?
At 40 minutes into my 45 minute wait, a woman approached me and asked if she could do anything to help me. “Can I get you anything from inside the store? Have you called someone for help? Do you have a cell phone and water? It’s really hot out here – if you need water I can get you some.”
I immediately noticed the difference between the two people who had asked if I needed help. I feel like one was asking out of duty…it was his “job” to ask me if there was anything he could do. The other woman was trying to meet my immediate need.
In Luke chapter 10, the very last part of verse 25 tells us to “Love our neighbor as ourselves.” The woman who offered to get me water and meet my needs was showing the type of “love” found in this verse. Love, the love the Bible teaches, is an action...”love” acts to meet a need of someone right where they are.
That day, I came face to face with some really tough questions. How would I have “acted” in the same situation? Would I have been the one avoiding the situation or would I have come to meet the need of the person who was stranded?
I pray the next time an opportunity presents itself to meet the needs of someone I can put my “day” aside and be the “Good Samaritan.”

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