Good Samaritan

I didn’t see her fall. But there she was on the cold snowy street. On all fours. Strangers ran over to offer help. Even with kind hands supporting her, she was struggling to get up. A young man lay his coat on the ground to give her traction. Yet she was only able to crawl over to the sidewalk. Once she made her way to the brick building, she was able to pull herself up into a standing position. She leaned against the cold wall for a minute to regain her composure. Embarrassed and humiliated, she stood and collected herself before moving on. I wasn’t sure if she was alone, or if someone in the small crowd was accompanying her on her errands.

 She was of an older age. White hair. Slow gait. Youth had passed her by. She appeared to struggle with bodily movements that the young take for granted. She carried a small black handbag. I never saw her face. Was she confused or disoriented? Was she anxious because of the winter weather? I don’t know if her mental faculties were in place. She needed help whether she wanted it or not. And several strangers rushed to her side.

It was a reminder to me that there are plenty of kind people in this world. There are good samaritans who will step up and help a stranger in need. Not necessarily wanting to be obvious about their good deed, but lending a hand when it is called for.

I asked myself. If I had seen her first, would I have rushed to offer a helping hand? Would I have shown kindness? Or would I have been a silent sidewalk gawker, hoping someone else would step forward?  

That same day, a friend had asked me to hold her accountable if she was acting in an unkind way. She said that as close friends we need that accountability, and she expected me to speak up if I saw something ungodly in her behavior. If only more of us would ask for accountability and then hold others to it when asked. This is another good samaritan act that is often overlooked and unwanted. Who of us wants to be told we’re acting in a shameful way? Who wants to be set straight? But kind words of correction and admonition can be set a wayward soul on the right path.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Leviticus 19:18

Someone else recently received a life changing diagnosis, followed by major surgery. The treatments that lie ahead would cause anyone to be anxious. And rightfully so. Friends brought food for the family. Acts of kindness were shown. Work schedules rearranged. Love continues to be poured into a family whose normal routine has turned upside down for the foreseeeable future. Random acts of kindness and words of encouragement are a blessing to the one in need.

I have to ask myself. Do I look for opportunities to help others? Not necessarily when their need is obvious. But when it’s a quiet gesture of support and encouragement? When it will be unknown and unnoticed by others? Do I still offer help?

There’s a story in the Bible about a man who asks Jesus how he can inherit eternal life. Jesus asks him if he has read the Scriptures. After all, the man asking the question is an expert in religious law. He has probably memorized most of the historic Scriptures. And he quoted the exact words that will give him eternal life. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself. And Jesus confirmed that he should live the words he just quoted. Then Jesus gave an example of what that lifestyle would look like.

To read the full story about the Good Samaritan, read Luke 10:25-37.

In the story of the Good Samaritan, the man who offered the help was a member of a hated group of people. They weren’t followers of the holy Scriptures. And the two men who offered no help were supposedly godly men. Shouldn’t each of us be willing to help someone in need? Our differences don’t have to separate us. We can reach across the divide to help a needy soul, regardless of their beliefs or lifestyle. Kindness never goes out of style.

Goodness Gracious

I don’t like to wait. I don’t like to be inconvenienced. I don’t like to be forgotten. I don’t like being lied to. I don’t like being cheated. I guess that I’m saying I’m selfish. I don’t want to be selfish,  but I like things my way. 

So, when I was standing in line at the grocery checkout, I had to decide. Would I show my annoyance or would I show grace. After all.  The person in front of me was trying to use a special coupon that the cashier couldn’t scan. Someone with more authority had to scan it, and they were struggling with getting the job done. I was silently sharing in that struggle.  And all I wanted to do was sigh loudly and glare. But I didn’t. I avoided eye contact and sighed inwardly. I berated myself for having such a poor attitude.

 So when the cashier thanked me for waiting, what was I supposed to say? No problem? But I was feeling like it was a problem.  And why? Where was I going that I was in such a hurry? My mask was hot, which makes me grumpy. I was hungry, and that makes me grumpy. What is my problem?

You each have the ability to let the words restore, inspire, soothe and build bridges instead of wound, separate or belittle. Let us pause before we speak, listen before we judge and stay curious, even when it hurts.

Darling Media

I admit it. I’m struggling. Just when I think I’m doing ok with all that has happened this year, something new comes along and sweeps me off my feet. And not in a good way.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Psalms 103:8

In case you aren’t aware, there was recently a presidential election. There was a winner and there was a loser. Some say there was a definite winner and let’s move on. Others are challenging the results due to voter fraud and demand legal action. Someone has to be the winner and someone has to be the loser. In a race of two, that’s how the ball rolls. At this point, it seems both parties are losers.

Oh. I wasn’t a political candidate. I never will be. I’m not an athlete. I never will be. I’m not big on open competition. It just isn’t in my blood. But I do love to win. I admit it. I will be a fair weather fan if my favorite sports team is losing their game. If they can’t show up to play, I can’t show up to cheer them on. Call me a bad person. I’m not. But I don’t like it when things don’t go my way. Just being honest.

I’ve found that both the winner and the loser have a role to play once the results have been determined. The winner needs to win graciously. And the loser needs to lose graciously. Neither role is easy. One wants to gloat. Maybe it’s payback. Or pride. Or greed. Or finally my day has come. The other wants revenge. Or a second chance. An opportunity to prove the other wrong. Maybe it’s pride. Maybe they’re just a sore loser.

The telling is in how the winner and loser respond to the results. How does the winner win graciously? And how does the loser lose graciously?

It’s easy to spot idolatry in another. It’s very hard to be humble enough to see your own.

Mary DeMuth

I find I’m aging. I can tell it in the way my skin wrinkles. I can see it in the lines and creases in places that once were smooth. I know that if I can see it, others can too. But that’s the way life is. I can ignore it, but it won’t go away. I can pretend I look as youthful as I did 50 years ago. But it just isn’t the case.

I find grace is needed when it comes to aging. An acceptance of the way things were and the way things are and the way things will be. It’s not that things are ok. It’s just how it is. But I also find that there’s still time to make a difference. Gracefully, of course.

I find that when someone disagrees with me, I must be graceful in how I respond. Can I see their point of view, or is it my way or the highway? Can I accept their position in a kind, agreeable way? Can I respond in gentleness and fairness? Can I willingly hear what they’re saying and not judge?

Grace is a lesson to be learned. I find it’s a trial and error process. Oh. Being ungracious can be intentional. But so can being gracious.

We sat at lunch watching the young waiter. He didn’t seem to understand the idea of multitasking. He was able to complete only one task at a time. And it slowed down the entire lunch for the multiple tables he was serving. I heard him apologize more than once.

He seemed to be a nice young man. He was trying to do a good job. He was pleasant and kind. He was attentive when you had his attention. The trouble was that his attention was divided. I knew my patience had already been tested at the grocery store, so I decided I needed to take a deep breath and hold my tongue. Was it really that hard to do?

I don’t know what he is dealing with in his life. Maybe he’s trying to balance his school and work schedule. Perhaps he was struggling with wearing a mask all day while doing his job. Perhaps he has an upcoming midterm that he isn’t quite ready for. Or maybe he was assigned too many tables and just couldn’t manage his time well. There could be a multitude of reasons why he was struggling. Why not just give him a break?

I pray for God to envelop me with peace. I ask for his grace to overwhelm me as I consider the forgiveness I have received.  Now I must offer that same grace to the person who may challenge me. Or to the neighbor who stands opposed to my beliefs.

What are my intentions? What do I want to accomplish in the exchange? Am I willing to sever a friendship or a family relationship for many years to come just because I think I’m right? Is holding a grudge more important than gentle concern and kind humility? Is saying those harsh calculated words more important than my relationship with God? Am I willing to say those derogatory words in front of God? Because if I say them, then I’ve said them in front of God. 

Let’s be humble and kind, even when we don’t want to be. There are no regrets in that.

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