Being a Samaritan at the lake
August 25, 2011
This summer we took a trip to Kerr lake for an afternoon swim. My wife, baby, sister, two labrador retrievers, and I were crammed into our little Buick. Needless to say, we were packed! We had a great afternoon swimming. As the lazy hours at the lake rolled by, we enjoyed watching a group that was swimming a few yards away. It was a church group, and all throughout the afternoon I remember hearing the kids trying to get pastor Eric’s attention: “pastor Eric, look! Pastor Eric.” As the sun began to set, we decided it was time to pile into the car and head home. All the dogs were situated and our gear squeezed in, but we had a problem. Our car would not start! Now it was 7:00 in the evening, and Henderson is not known for being a very friendly town. But I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that we were broken down near a church group. Here is a chance to see brotherly love at work! I approached the church group, who were still splashing in the water, and hollered for a jump-start. They paused, and then replied that none of them had jumper cables in their cars. They continued playing in the water.
Now, I’m not telling this story because I am bitter or to embarrass this church group. I’ve simply been challenged as I’ve thought about their reaction. Here was a perfect opportunity for them to be the good Samaritan, to go out of their way to help someone in need. I understand that this would have meant ending their swimming early for the night, and probably also driving to a nearby gas station to borrow some jumper cables. But the group did not lift a finger or show even an ounce of concern.
But then came the good Samaritan, in the form of a park ranger. This park ranger was exceedingly patient. He drove me a couple of miles down the road to fetch help, he stayed with me as long as I needed, and he ended up solving the problem. One of our battery cables had become slightly loose. He had a wrench and tightened it for me. As we got in the car to go merrily on our way, the park ranger handed us a prized cantaloupe that he had in the cab of his truck. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the kindness of that park ranger.
Now, some may say that the park ranger was doing his job, and that’s true. But, I still can’t help but feel like the church group missed an opportunity. And that makes me ask myself a few questions: Do I help others even when it is inconvenient. Am I willing to interrupt my leisure to love my neighbor? Do I unknowingly miss opportunities to show the extravagant love of Christ?
I was telling a friend this story last week, and he had a very similar story he shared with me. He and his family broke down on the side of the road within eyesight of a church. It was a Sunday night and the church just so happened to be having a business meeting. My friend walked in and asked for some help. The church instructed him to walk down the hallway, take a left, and there would be a phone that he could use. They continued their business meeting.
Sadly, a lot of believers miss opportunities to love their neighbors. May I always be ready to love someone in need — even when I least expect to do so.