Last night I left kenpo at 8:40 as usual; it takes about 10 minutes to get out of class and packed up. On my way out I called my mentor Fred to talk about a possible mission trip to Rwanda that he had suggested me for, and we were discussing it as I started down 35th Ave toward home. All was normal with the world: I was a bit sore from class (thanks to another mentor, Joel, who likes to beat me up on the training mat), feeling good about the weekend ahead, and wondering about God dropping an opportunity in my lap to perhaps teach pastors in a remote part of Rwanda about how to study the Bible and teach it. (you can find some AMAZING pictures of the group’s previous trip at Chris Mattox’ blog)
All of a sudden my life got put on hold for a bit. A car turned left at the light at loop 101 right in front of a truck driving south in front of me, maybe 20 yards ahead. They hit each other moderately hard, and pieces of bumper went flying. I quickly told Fred that I had seen an accident and needed to go, then hung up the phone and pulled in behind the truck that had been driving in front of me. It had been struck pretty hard in the driver’s side front quarter panel and driven into the guard rail; the little Kia that had turned in front was smashed up in front pretty good and resting in the far right lane.
Now was not the time for panic but for assessment of the situation. There was a woman in the truck who appeared fine. She opened her door and confirmed that she was unhurt. The driver of the other car, though, was pretty shook up and was starting to panic. Though it looked like there were no serious injuries, I asked the first driver to call 911 to get an ambulance rolling just in case, which she did. I then began a dialog with the young woman behind the wheel.
When I first approached she was panicking. Her airbag had gone off, and while she was thankfully wearing her seat belt she still got thumped pretty good by it. She had opened her door by the time I got there, so I crouched down next to her and began to reassure her that she would be alright. Our exchange went something like this:
Her: “I can’t see! I can’t see!” (crying heavily and hyperventilating)
Me: “Sweetheart, my name is John and I am here to help you. You’re going to be fine, I promise. Your eyes need a second to recover from your airbag. That’s normal; just give it a minute. What’s your name?”
Me: “Okay Emily, my name is John and I am here to help. You’re going to be fine; we have the paramedics on the way.”
Her: “I can’t breathe! My side hurts. My knee hurts!”
Me: “I know sweetheart. Sit still and wait for the paramedics to arrive. How old are you Emily?”
Me: “19? Well it makes sense that you’re a little shook up. That’s a lot to happen at 19 to a young woman. I promise, you’re going to be fine. You’re not badly hurt, but let’s just wait here in the car until the firefighters come okay?”
By that point she had calmed down quite a bit, though she was obviously shaken up. I had to put my hand on her shoulder to hold her still for a bit, but crouched there and continued to talk to her. Amazingly, a friend from church stopped at the scene and held her hand as well, acting as a wonderful comforting influence. (probably 30 cars just whizzed by without stopping before the paramedics got there… ~X( <>) I took Emily’s phone and called her mom from it, let her know that Emily should be fine but that she was probably going to get transported to John C. Lincoln and that she should head over there.
Once the firemen arrived (the fire house was close enough to see from the scene of the wreck) my job was done. The professionals took over! I talked to the other lady and gave her my card, gave a report to the policeman who responded along with my information, and jumped back in the truck to head home.
I’m all about being a Good Samaritan, and of course helping someone in need always reminds me of the parable Jesus tells in Luke 10:30-37:
“Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. “And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. “Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. “On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” ”
Being a neighbor isn’t where we live; Jesus tells us that being a neighbor is defined by how we act and how we care. I was so proud of Barbara for stopping when she did and rendering assistance to that scared young woman! Jesus commands us to help those in need and to offer assistance to others, even when it is costly and inconvenient. I must admit that I didn’t see the wreck and think about this parable before stopping, but thankfully the Lord had it imbedded in my heart so that I didn’t need to recall it in order to obey it last night.
This episode also made me think of what God tells us in Scripture, though maybe not how you might think. I didn’t really offer young Emily any medical help beyond making her stay put; I am not trained beyond basic first aid and even if I were she didn’t appear to be badly hurt. What I offered her was an emotional anchor and reassurance that everything would be alright. I was a psychological and spiritual support for a few crucial minutes. That made me think of life with God as pictured in Psalm 23:4,
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
If we are all alone and we run into tragedy or misfortune, we panic like Emily did. Having someone at her side reassuring her that it would be okay was enough to bring her back and calm her down until help could arrive. How much more do we need the reassurance of God that He is with us and that everything will be alright in the end?
I can’t imagine life without having His presence to comfort and guide me. Whatever comes, God is right there with His followers to comfort, to strengthen, and to encourage. (and best of all, when the paramedics arrive he won’t leave you to go home, eat dinner and watch TV!). When life gets tough and we are disoriented and hurting, it is His voice that comforts us and allows us to make it through whatever comes.
So my encouragement to you today is twofold: (1) remember, we BECOME the neighbor of those around us when we meet their needs, which God commands us to do. So become neighbors whenever you can, and look for chances to be the hands and feet of Christ. (2) Whatever trial or problem you face, remember that God is with you to see you through it and to encourage you. Take His hand and walk through it; you’ll be glad you did.
Oh, yeah, one more thing: fasten your seatbelt and drive defensively, too. 🙂