By Julian Newman
Have you ever had something to do or somewhere to go and an unexpected interruption offered you an unusual choice? You see, most of us pray dangerous prayers and ask God to use our lives to help change the world. At times, with passionate cries and tears, we surrender ourselves to the will of God. Whatever He desires, we are anxious to do; whatever cost we are happy to pay.
But what happens when the entry way to a miracle is inconvenient? How are we supposed to react when we are in a rush, perhaps on the phone or preoccupied in our routines? What if we are not in the mood? In his landmark book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of a New York woman named Kitty Genovese who was attacked three times, chased, and later killed by an assailant while a staggering thirty-eight people watched from their windows and heard her screams. Though they were witnesses to this terrible crime, they stood back and did nothing.
Like the priest and the scribe who hurried by a broken and beaten countryman that lay in the street in Jesus story about the Good Samaritan, these people had the power to change history before it happened. Maybe they could have saved a life. Maybe not. No one will ever know because they didnt even try.
Most of us are not presented with such dramatic and dangerous opportunities on a daily basis, but you never know when you could change a life, or at least someones day for the good.
Two days ago, I got the chance.
It was Thursday and I was spending the day away from the office to study and collect my thoughts. Sunday was fast approaching and it had already been a full week.
Unaccounted for moments had become few and far between so I was thankful for a few hours to pray, read, and relax. After reading a couple chapters out of the book of Hebrews, I decided to get out of the house and take a run. It is amazing how often God inspires me with new thoughts, new ideas, and new vision when I am out jogging. So I changed into my workout gear, tied my Nikes up tight, and took off.
Less than 15 minutes into the run, I saw an elderly woman walking feebly in front of me on the sidewalk. She wobbled a bit as she walked and appeared as if she might be dizzy. Because I didnt want to startle her by running beside her on the sidewalk, I bounded into the street and kept moving. As I ran by I turned back to say good morning and to see if she was okay. As soon as we made eye contact she motioned her hand and waved me over.
Do you know where the bus stop is? And how far is the credit union?
After speaking with her for a couple moments I discovered that she had been walking for a very long time. She was 83 years old and needed to get to the bank but her children didnt want her to drive anymore. So she took it upon herself to walk to the credit union from her house that was at least five miles away from her home. She was visibly exhausted and her breathing was labored. After I asked her how she was doing she explained to me that she had hip replacement surgery two years ago and that area was starting to hurt because of the long walk.
I stood there looking at the little old lady, unsure of what to do. I didnt have a car, no phone, and even though she didnt look too heavy, I couldnt put her on my back and carry her to the bank or to her house. I wasnt sure how much the bus fare was or if the bus stop was even close by. Besides, I had a run to finish. I mean, I was out here to exercise, but I really wanted God to speak to me.
What should I do? What was the right thing to do? I thought I could wish her the best, pray a quick prayer, and take off to finish my run. I thought about running to a telephone booth and calling for help, but I didnt have any money. And honestly, when was the last time you saw a phone booth anyway? With the explosion of wireless phones, payphones are more scarce than a reasonable gas price.
Maybe I could knock on someones door to use their phone to call for some help. Well, even though I was trying to help a little old woman, it would be pretty awkward for me, a strange man standing on someones doorstep trying to explain this whole situation and not sound crazy, like a liar, or a home invader.
So, turned and ran back to my office which was about 10 or so minutes away to speak to my administrative assistant about giving this lady a ride back to the credit union and then back to her house. But before I took off, I told her what I was going to do and how I was going to try to help.
The woman gave a surprised smile and asked, Are you an angel?
After running as fast as I could, I got to our offices and told Allison the whole story. She and I went to meet this woman who was standing by a fence waiting for us. She was overjoyed and thankful when we got there and attempted to give us her bus fare as payment for our trouble (we kindly refused).
How often are we so preoccupied with our own stuff that we are not able to partner with God to do a miracle? Who on our daily “run” has God called us to reach, but we missed it because we werent listening? I am just happy that on a Thursday afternoon I at least got one right. You never know if today is the day where we are going to change history, make someone smile, or even save a life.
If you liked this article, check out: The Hand that Feeds Her: Caring for the elderly
Julian is the Lead Pastor of FC2, a growing community of believers where he and his wife Tiffany have been pastoring the church they were once youth pastors at for a year this March. He is a the proud father of three daughters and and an avid blogger. He loves sports, movies, books, his wife and family, and Jesus (not in that order!). You can reach him at diaryofadreamer.com .