Stale. Boring. Redundant.
Honestly, some days and some stories in the Bible just evoke the emotions of those words. I know I can’t be the only one that gets in the rut of reading the same book of the Bible on repeat. Maybe when the pastor says he’s going to talk about Moses or the Prodigal Son, you internally cringe and start thinking of what you need to get done after service rather than listening to the word of God. I’ve been there.
Ironically, I’m not there right now. I cannot stress how weird that is. I feel like I’ve been sitting in the middle of James for over a month now. Talk about a book wrought with tension for living your life without transforming and being obedient to God. In the midst of this, there’s one Biblical story that keeps showing up and tapping me on my shoulder as if to say, “don’t forget me. I’m still here.” That story is the story of the Good Samaritan. Let’s read it together really fast. (Stick with me, even if you’ve heard it 1000 times before.)
The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘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.”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
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.”
My Drive Down Highway 6
Last Friday, I hung out with my mom and some friends as we went to a huge garage sale, breakfast at McDonald’s and a quick trip to Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. I had a great time, and I felt relaxed. It’s probably one of those few quiet moments that I didn’t feel like I was rushing to get to the next thing. That has been so rare lately. When we finished at the last store though, I knew that I needed to get on my way to get some stuff done before family begins arriving for Thanksgiving.
My drive seemed ordinary. I was reading The Fringe Hours via audiobook which just seems incredibly appropriate since I don’t have the time to sit down and read the book version currently. Turning onto Highway 6 to head to my home, I figured there must be an accident or something ahead as the lines of cars appeared longer than normal. I didn’t really give it too much of a thought since I was into my book.
My car got up close to the light and I pulled to a stop. I had seen a lot of cars swerve around from the right lane into the left lane to pass something in the road and whizz past on their way. My first instinct was that it was a blown out tire or something that had fallen from a truck that had come down the road before me. The driver in front of me threw on his hazard lights and proceeded to get out of his car and beeline towards the object.
My mind is still wrapping itself around this next part. It wasn’t a discarded tire or an old, stained mattress in the road. It was an elderly man who was kneeling. As my mind processed what was happening, I saw the Angel stoop down nearby and grab a cane. It must have fallen out of reach when this man fell. He kneeled down next to him and put the cane back in the man’s hands.
Together, they struggled. The Angel was finally able to get him to his feet. A woman who had been walking towards them, fell in line as she struggled with them. They embraced each other and walked to the sidewalk. They were able to get the man seated. I cannot imagine the gratitude and the feeling of love and safety that enveloped him in that moment.
My hazards were on at this point. The light turned green again. Cars behind me proceeded to merge over to the next lane to continue the cycle of swerving and whizzing past this inconvenience. A car honked. For some reason, that honk was so much more jarring in that moment than a honk would at another time. Maybe because it seemed as if the honk was from a spot of self-centered busyness or a complete lack of empathy and compassion? I don’t know. I just know that it’s still haunting me days later.
The Angel got back in his car, and we drove on. A few miles down Highway 6, he pulled off to assist another car that had pulled over. My prayer is to have his love and courage to slow down to notice the moments playing out in the world around us and step out to help.
My Struggle with this Moment + How to Carry On
Getting to see the Good Samaritan story play out in action in realtime was a beautiful moment that unfolded before me. I’ve struggled a bit with it as I’ve reflected on that moment in my Friday though. Why didn’t I get out of the car? Why did I not step out to help? I know that my mind was still processing what was unfolding in front of me as the woman was falling in line to help. Honestly in my own haste, I nearly missed the moment entirely myself.
As I’ve struggled with that moment, I’ve come to realize something. I needed to stay in my car. I don’t think I could have practically helped to lift the man in my own strength. As someone with a platform, even just a tiny one, I am able to spread the story of that moment and why it matters. I’m able to ask you to sit in this tension with me. Where would you have been? Are you okay with that answer?
I’m about to set out for a conference in a few days with some friends. The other night, I was looking over my chosen breakout sessions and a topic seemed to leap out at me. I have multiple sessions where I’ll be listening to how to make the Bible come alive. That’s almost laughable to me right now. There’s nothing in my power or my crafted words that will hit someone’s soul anywhere close to the Holy Spirit tapping on your shoulder saying, “don’t forget me. I’m still here.” I just watched scripture come alive before me for goodness sakes!
If there’s a passage or story on the back of your mind that you’re thinking that you ‘already know’, go read it again. God may just have something new to reveal in it for you or a reminder that your heart so desperately needs. Maybe you’re needing that in person reality like I did where I saw scripture practically unfold before my eyes. I believe in a God that can make anything happen. Pray for him to bring scripture alive in front of you or for you to live with your eyes open so that you’ll see what He is already unfolding before you. Maybe you know you would have been one of the cars that were swerving and whizzing past. Pray that you can trust God with the chaos and slow down to notice these things.
And if you’re wondering, I’ll still be in those sessions about the Bible coming alive at the conference. It can’t hurt.