Good Samaritan Pop Quiz

Yesterday was LONG.  Good,  but long.   I awoke at three to be on the road by four, drove five hours, installed a projection system, drove back home and fell into bed half an hour into today.   It was a great day.  I enjoyed every hour.  I was just awake for more of it than usual, I guess.

When I stepped out onto the back porch this morning I wrinkled my nose at the rain.  It’s spring, so don’t get me wrong; we need it, should expect it, and be thankful for it – so I am.  It’s just that I’m not fond of black high-gloss pavement in the dark of early morning.  The rain dims the lines on the highway, messes with my depth perception, and the clear-blur-clear-blur-clear-blur of windshield wipers adds to it all.

I did my best, and played it safe on the way to work.  “Lord, I’m thankful I didn’t have to drive in this on the way home, I’d have been a mess!”  Approaching the last major interchange on my route I saw brake lights up ahead—everybody’s.  It’s not unusual for a little back-up here, but today it was a quarter of a mile sooner than usual.  Creeping along, everybody on the brakes, I saw what appeared to be taillights deep in the valley of the median between a couple of the on-ramps.   As I came closer I could see they were not level.  One headlight was shining into the grass and weeds, but the other I couldn’t see.   When I saw a figure climbing the hill toward the road I heard myself say  “I’m stopping.”

Flashers on, and careful to stop before the guard rail began so I could get down there if I needed to, I approached the stranger in distress. 

“Is that your vehicle?”


“Are you OK?”

“I think so.”  He seemed a little disoriented.

“Are there others in the car?”

“No, just me.”

“What happened?”

The young Hispanic male stuffed his hands deeper in the pocket of his hoodie sweatshirt and winced.  “Was slowing down for this,”  he motioned toward the procession of brake lights and windshield wipers behind us, “the car behind me hit me and I started sliding. Went right down in there – was nothing I could do. I hit a tree down there, that’s what stopped me. He didn’t stop or nothin’.  I have no idea who it was or what kind of car it was.”

I looked past him at the hundreds of cars going by and remembered the story Jesus told about donkeys, robbers, inns, Levites and Samaritans.  This was my pop-quiz; my chance to apply the moral of His story to cars, hit-and-run drivers, 9-1-1, young Hispanics and a middle aged white guy.   “Have you called for help?”

“No.  I don’t even know where I am.” 

I knew he looked a little disoriented; I know how that feels after a mishap. “There’s no one else in your car?”

“No,  just me.”

“C’mon then, let’s get in my car, we’ll call for help”  Safe inside, I dialed 9-1-1 on my cell phone.  “I’ll start the conversation, then hand the phone to you,” I informed him.  He volunteered that he was wearing his seatbelt when the accident happened.  “Smart,” I thought.  When the dispatcher answered I began to describe our location.  “You’re at Coldspring, correct?”  How did he know?  Then I remembered technology in front of him shows my cell phone’s location on a map.  They know exactly where we are! I didn’t have to read him the Coldspring Road sign I could see on the other side of four lanes of brake lights.  “I’ve got you,” said the voice in my ear, “and we have three squads on the way.  Do you need an ambulance?” I looked at the stranger sitting next to me and parroted the question.  He shook his head no “I’m okay.”  I relayed his words to the dispatcher, closed my phone, and we began our wait.  It wasn’t but a minute. 

I looked more carefully at where we were and it occurred to me that fifteen months ago I was on the shoulder of this same highway, only southbound, right over there.  I could see the place under the streetlights across the way to my left.  Uncanny.  Mine was the car and I was the driver in distress that day.  I noticed my passenger flexing and rubbing his left hand.  “You OK?”

“Yeah, think I hurt my hand just a little.”

“Did your airbag go off when you hit the tree?”


“Let me guess, your hand —the hurt one— was it on the top of the steering wheel like this?”  I put my left hand on the top of the steering wheel as I finished my question.

“Yeah.  I always drive like that.”

“Just a guess, but when the air bag went off it may have smashed your hand against the windshield. Happened to me a little over a year ago. I was southbound,  just over there, at the beginning of a snowstorm when I ….”   The first squad pulled up behind us at that point and God delivered him from the rest of my story.  In a couple of minutes the officer thanked me for stopping and told me I didn’t have to stay. 

I pulled away and merged into the four lines of slow-moving traffic. I thought maybe I’d be more put-out at all the drivers that didn’t stop this morning. Instead, gratitude welled up inside me.  

“Lord, thanks for safety in all of yesterday’s miles – and this morning.  Thanks that that young man is OK.  Thanks for having me be the one to stop today.  It felt good to be the good Samaritan in a way.  Thank you for the people who have stopped to see if I’m all right when I’ve been the one in need.  Oh, and Lord?  Thanks again for not asking me to drive in this rain on the way home last night.  That could have been me, I came right by here about midnight.  But then, you already know that, don’t You?”  

6 Replies to “Good Samaritan Pop Quiz”

  1. Jonell

    Thanking God with you for safety this morning. We had 3″ of wet slippery snow on Monday morning in Michigan. On my way to work (15 interstate miles) there were 3 cars in the ditch and one of the 3 was on its roof. I had to open the office at 8 AM and was the only staff member working the first hour, before a co-worker arrived. Each accident scene had another car already stopped, helping at the scene, so I kept driving. Glad you were able to stop and help and act out the Good Samaritan parable in real life. God protected him and you and for that we are thankful!

    – Jonell

  2. Christine

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    I had a long day yesterday as well. I got up at 5 am in Colorado and couldn’t go to bed until just after 7am in Missouri (when my work night ended). With the time change, that means I was awake for 25 hours. Oy.

    Reading this (and your own gratitude) makes me really thankful for our driving conditions during my long day.

    (By the way, I kind of missed the end of your Proverbs posts. My mom suddenly passed away Feb 12th and everything was instantly turned up-side-down. At some point I plan on trying to go through the archives. So you might get some REALLY belated comments or something.)

  3. Phil

    Welcome back! I’m so sorry to learn of your mom! I went back and read more detail at your place, how unexpected and what a shock! I’m thankful you have friends close by who are there for you right now. Don’t be afraid to lean on them for support. If you need another pair or two of listening ears my sister Jonell (a regular and contributor here) and I both do well along those lines. Our dad went home to Glory in 2002 after a short battle with brain cancer.

    I hope the things you read here as you find time will encourage and strengthen you in this valley part of life’s journey.


  4. annkroeker

    I’m commenting belated, but I wanted to see what you have started to stick under “Storytelling.” As you can imagine, I’m a fan of Story.

    This a great one, with the connect/thread of your experience the first time woven into the narration of the second.

    I need to tell more stories. It’s what my mom and dad love to read most on my blog. They don’t print out any of the “article” style stuff. Almost everybody responds to a good story.


  5. Phil

    Aww don’t worry about the time thang… one of the things I like about blogs is that people can feel free to pick up something from a while ago and read it for the first time – and it’s fresh. Bananas? Different story.

    Stories are very effective, no doubt about it.
    I read a study some years ago, a story I guess it was, about a company that wanted to change the way their people looked at things (paradigm was the buzz-word at the time). They divided their employees into three equal groups.

    Group 1 they fed facts. Data only.
    Group 2 they fed stories relating to their new values. No data.
    Group 3 they fed a blend of data and stories.

    Any quesses which group caught on and changed their thinking soonest?

    Stories only. Group two. No wonder Jesus used them so often. No wonder good teachers are willing to take the time to tell them – and well. And one more good reason for me to want to tell them here. They make a difference!


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