Have you ever read the parable of the Good Samaritan? Yeah, me, too. At least a billion times. Well, nearly.
But I’m not sure I understood it until today.
When my twenty-something daughter, who has traveled to Berlin on a Fulbright award, contacted me to say, “Mom, I’m getting ready to go to the Berlin central train station… to bring stuff for the Ukrainian refugees coming in, who are mostly women and children. If anyone wants to contribute you can send me money to get some more stuff. Here’s the items they need right now.”
And I looked at that list. And I cried. Some things are listed as “urgent.” Some things are “just important.” baby bottles. wipes. diapers. shampoos. detergents. hand cream. combs and hairbrushes. panty liners and tampons. lip balm. toothpaste. shower gel. disinfectant. coloring books. matchbox cars. plushies. sketch books. stickers. URGENT.
Oh, please someone buy so many sketch books and plushies.
The former me thought that it was a cop out just to send cash. Today’s me is waking up to a world that needs all I have to offer. Whatever I have to offer.
Oh, but that Good Samaritan from Luke, Chapter 10, on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho … he set a very high bar. he stopped to help the man who had been robbed and beaten and left half dead. He dressed his wounds. He transported the man to safety. where he took care of him. and then he could be cared for. and he could rest and recover. And, after covering expenses, he told the caregiver, whatever it costs, put it on my tab. I’ll be back to settle up the expenses.
When I read the parable of the Good Samaritan, I “hear” this is what you need to be. This kind of good neighbor. who does it all, going above and beyond for his neighbor, whom he doesn’t even know.
Today, I am a continent away from one who needs my help. Who needs me to stop and look, treat their wounds, attend to their needs, deliver them to safety, ensure their care, and provision them for the journey.
All I can offer is, “any expense you have, I will reimburse.” But my understanding today says, that is enough. Because I know someone, who by the happenstance of circumstances, can provide for the one who has need and can reimburse the innkeeper for the kindness he or she is administering.
I had always set the Good Samaritan as the highest of bars: Stop. treat. Deliver. Care. Provide. Reimburse. All of these in order to fulfill my obligations. The “what more must I do? clause.” By this standard the Kingdom is very far off and always will be.
But today, by the grace of God, and amidst the disgrace of mankind’s behavior to his own kind, I see the Good Samaritan not the work of just one man, but as the work of all of us together. For you who are bold enough and brave enough and whose circumstances have placed you in the midst of this fray, you can be the stoppers, the treaters, the deliverers, the carers. And may God bless you and protect you. We, whose circumstances place us at a distance, can be the providers, the reimbursers and surely, oh surely, the prayers of prayers.
Together, not alone, not separately, but all together, we can be The Good Samaritan: not just proclaimers, but demonstrators, purveyors and benefactors of those who are being the Good News. News you can believe and believe in. Because you see it in living color. In the person next to you. In the one far from you. And inexorably in the deepest version of you.
Together, let’s believe the good news of the gospel as we live it out.
In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Thanks be to God.
There are always a few loud ones. Have you noticed? And we were sitting at the table next to them.
Since it was also the night before the community pickleball tournament, my husband pointed them out to me. “That’s Tim sitting with Sheila (whose names have been changed to protect the innocent). You’ll see them playing tomorrow.”
I sure did, but before I saw them, I heard them. And when I saw them play, it confirmed what I have often observed about how we play: we exhibit who we are — especially when there’s something on the line… like a pickleball championship (!!) There was absolutely no quietness to Tim or Sheila, both of whom slammed the ball full out, every chance they got.
So this had me wondering, who am I … when I play? when I compete? when it’s all on the line? Because, if I’m honest with myself, I’m probably pretty much the same in every venue. And truthfully, the days’ news of Russian troops and rolling tanks into Ukraine has me pondering this. Who would I be in the face of missiles launched, bombs dropped and miles and miles of incoming tanks? For these people it is most certainly all on the line.
I have the luxury (for now) of considering this in a speculative way. If we’re calling this a contest, what are my tendencies? How do I play when it’s merely this year’s trophy on the line?
I am endurance. I'll wait you out. Wait until you make a mistake, hit it long or wide or into the net. I won't capitalize on your mistake. I'll let you make the unforced error. I am endurance. Built to last. At least to outlast you. That's the way I win. The only way I win. I am willing to suffer the indignities of the assault in the hopes I am sustained for the win. I am endurance. My goal is to finish the race -- not necessarily first -- I'm not aiming to beat you. Just running with you ... until I can push the pace and can run ahead. Don't be fooled, I'm fiercely competitive, just not aggressive. Never "for the win" at all costs. That costs me too much. Never "by any means necessary." That would cost me my very soul. My soul's not for sale. I am endurance. I'm playing the long game. Because that's my strong suit. It's who I am. It's how I wake up in the morning. Surely, it's how I'm made. Just wondering here, who I'd be if it was all on the line. Could I wait for you to falter? Could I hope for you to desist? Could I trust you to come to your senses? Could I endure in the face of all this? I am endurance, but endurance does falter. Endurance doesn't always win. Could it be that God is endurance, too? Willing to lose so many while He waits? Sometimes I wish God would just use that mighty put-away shot, you know?