"But a Samaritan, as he traveled,
came where the man was;
and when he saw him,
he took pity on him."
Luke 10: 33
The evening clouds billowed higher as if they were contemplating a storm. Rain would be welcome as the ninety-degree temperatures sucked the moisture from all living things—me included. I shut the pages of the book I was reading while sprawled on a chaise lounge and gave my attention to the sky. So perfect. So beautiful.
I found myself praying. Praising. Thank you for all you give me, Lord. Use me. Let me help You by giving something back.
I rarely take walks in the evening. I am a morning person and take my walks in the early a.m. before most of the world is awake (including myself, if I'm totally honest). But that night the clouds and the pink of the sunset called to me.
I laced up my walking shoes and clipped on my headphones. And though I always head north, on this night, I headed south to better see the sunset in the west. Or so I thought.
After three blocks I neared the bottom of the hill where my street intersected another. There, I saw a man on the corner across the street, holding a piece of paper. It was dusk and his features were hazy, but I could see he was wearing white tennis shorts and a white polo shirt. He looked at me. Did he say something?
I ignored my plan to turn right and turned left to cross the street toward him. I nudged my headphones off my ears so I could hear him if he was saying something. I said, "Hello" to cover my curiosity with normal courtesy.
"Is this Hayes Street?" he asked, pointing up the street from where I'd come.
Ah, so that's it, he wants directions.
"That's Hayes," I said, continuing to walk, but turning toward him as I passed.
The man folded the paper, mumbling. "I'm legally blind and I'm trying to find my son. I can't see the street signs."
I nodded. I repeated, "Yes, that's Hayes" and continued on my walk.
After a half block, I stopped and looked back. What am I doing? A man who is legally blind asks for my help and I point him in the right direction and leave him to it?
With a sudden urgency, I backtracked, turning north on Hayes, hoping to catch up with him and be available if he needed more help. With my half-block diversion, he should have been a block ahead of me.
The sunset was past its prime, the shadows closing in. I shut off the music, feeling the need to concentrate in my efforts to find him and right the wrong I'd done.
There he is, up to the left. A few more steps revealed my "man" was a mailbox. I quickened my pace. He shouldn't be so far ahead . . .
I heard some boys playing basketball in a driveway. His son? I hurried toward the sound, hoping to see the father waiting for the last few baskets before heading home. My guilt would be relieved.
Five boys. No adults. He wasn't there.
My throat tightened. Tears threatened. Oh, Lord. I'm so sorry. Why didn't I stop and offer to help him? Why did I selfishly keep walking? I searched the street ahead, hoping to spot the glow of the white shorts and shirt as he wandered in the dark. Please, God. If he still needs help, let me find him. Give me another chance to help. Please forgive me.
Too soon I was home. I stopped in my driveway and scanned the street. Right and left. Up and down. There was no man. He had disappeared as if . . . as if he'd never existed.
I sat on the front steps a long time, watching for the man. Praying for the man. And praying for myself. An hour earlier I'd asked God to use me. Within minutes, He'd answered my prayer. And within minutes, I'd let Him down.
As the clouds rumbled in the distance, promising relief from summer's burden of heat, I asked God for relief from my own personal burden of guilt.
I asked Him, and by His mercy would receive, another chance.
But not today. Not today.
But not today. Not today.
Want more inspirational humor? Check out Save Me, God! I Fell in the Carpool: Help, Hope, and Humor for Drowning Moms