Below is a post I originally wrote back in 2013. I am reposting it today because a) it is one of my all-time favorites, b) I was speaking about the importance of caring for others this past Sunday, and c) God has been pounding this lesson into my head repeatedly over the past two weeks.
That's because I've spent more time in hospitals and emergency rooms in the past two weeks than the rest of my life combined - not for my sake, I am just fine, thanks be to God. I've been in and out of hospitals attempting to provide care for some loved ones - people who I love and care about deeply. That's actually the reason why I've been a little off-schedule with my posts and scopes recently.
And this experience has really taught me a lot - both about myself and about how God works in this world. Once things settle down and I get a chance to catch my breath, you can be sure that I'll be sharing those lessons - but for now, here's an important one to start off with: MY GOOD SAMARITAN MOMENT.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was walking down the sidewalk as fast as I could – in what I call my “Nascar mode” – weaving in and out of pedestrian traffic like it was the Daytona 500. I was late for an appointment at the county courthouse and those who know me know that I HATE BEING LATE…especially when I have an appointment with someone…especially when that someone is a county official working in the courthouse.
(rule of thumb: never be late when meeting someone who has handcuffs and works in the same building as the county jail)
I pulled into the parking garage and grabbed the first spot I could see. I bolted out of my car and started zipping down the sidewalk – head down, power walk, a man on a mission.
While walking I remember seeing a young couple. They stuck out to me because they were – sorry for what I’m about to say – “weird looking.” What I mean is that they didn’t look like everyone else (ironic for me to say that huh?). They were dressed in all black, leather pants and leather jackets, spikey hair on both the boy and the girl, earrings and tattoos all over the place, and each smoking a cigarette.
I’m not judging them, but they looked weird.
Actually I take that back. I 100% judged them. I judged them without saying a word. I judged them in my mind from the second I saw them and I did so without thinking twice about it.
But I kept walking.
A little further ahead, as I approached the front door of the building, I saw something else that caught my attention. This time it was a gentleman – probably in his 50s or 60s – and he was struggling to make it up the stairs. He was walking gingerly with a cane and clearly having a hard time making his way up the steps.
I saw him, took notice for about one second, and then continued inside the building – very proud of myself because I got there so fast and wasn’t going to end up being as late as I thought I would be.
I did it! Phew!
So now I’m walking through the building, trying to find the room for my meeting, and I look out the large glass windows on the first floor. Through those windows I can see the sidewalk and the stairs that I was just on. I look out the window and see the elderly gentleman with the cane.
But I also see someone else. Now the elderly gentleman isn’t alone. Now someone is helping him walk up those steps and making his life a lot easier. Who is it? Who could it possibly be???
Who else? THE TWO WEIRD LOOKING PEOPLE!
The people that I had judged as bad. The people that I looked down on the second I saw them. They were the ones who helped the man, while I – the priest/man of the cloth/man of God – zoomed right on by and was only preoccupied with my own little world.
My heart sunk. I was overcome by shame. Not only did I fail to help the man in need, but I judged those who did. I judged them as bad and myself as righteous when our actions indicated the exact opposite. I felt horrible!
Arguably the most famous story in the Bible is that of The Good Samaritan. You may have read the story, but on this day, I actually lived it! I was one of the characters in the story, but unfortunately I wasn’t one of the good ones.
I was the priest who refused to help the man in need because I was too busy or too lazy or too preoccupied with myself. And not only did I refuse to help the man, but I added on to my mistake by judging the one who eventually did help the man.
That was my Good Samaritan moment. And I’ll never forget it. That moment has changed the way I see myself and others. It is a constant reminder that – as the old saying goes – that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Believe it or not, it might even apply to you.