At the tender driving age of 16, I ran over a dog. The whole story embarrasses me, but we are friends. So here goes. I was driving a Ford Tempo that I shared with my twin sister on a very dark farm-to-market road…with two kids I babysat for in the backseat…when I practically went airborne. This dog was massive. If I had not seen him with my own eyes, I would have sworn he was a small horse. It still flabbergasts me that the little car survived unscathed.
I was crestfallen to think I had hurt and probably killed him. But it was not safe to stop the car there with no streetlights around and two children to take care of. So I continued on to my destination with my heart pounding up near my esophagus. I returned home a bit later on the same country road. Remembering about where I had struck the poor animal, I pulled way over to the opposite side of the road and drove on the shoulder to make sure I missed him. And then I plowed over a surprise bump. It was so very dark, but I immediately knew that the dog had dragged himself to the other side of the road and laid down. And I ran over him again. I sought to show him mercy by keeping to the other side of the road and ended up hurting him worse. As I retell it I still feel all of the disbelief and shame I did that night.
My pastor’s reading of the Good Samaritan story on Sunday sparked this memory. From Luke 10 Jesus tells a parable of a man going down a road who was robbed and beaten and left half-dead. A priest and a priest’s assistant both came by, saw him and moved over to the other side of the street to avoid him. In so doing, just like I did all those years ago, they did him additional harm. The Samaritan man came along next, and even though he had places he needed to be, he dressed the man’s wounds and took him to an inn. Having other business to attend to, he paid someone else to nurse this stranger back to health.
I listened to Bob Goff interviewed on a podcast recently, and he challenged me on this very issue. (If you haven’t heard him tell a story or read one of his books, I would beg you to do so immediately. Love Does and Everybody Always just might change the way you view how you should interact with the world.) Bob’s message is always and forever to love people. And in this interview he said, “The best way to show someone they have worth is to be available.” For this to be true, the opposite is true as well. If you want to send a message that someone is inconsequential (whether you intend to or not), ignore the text, decline the invitation, take days to return the voice mail, “walk on the other side of the street”.
“Beloved children, our love can’t be an abstract theory we only talk about but a way of life demonstrated through our loving deeds.” 1 John 3:18 The Passion Translation
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