Challenge for Thursday June 7, 2012: "A Fallen Traveler."
About twenty years ago, I worked evenings at a clinic in a very run-down, high crime area of Detroit. I drove to and from the job in my locked car and did not always sit at red lights until the change. Carjacking was a newly minted term that summer and I saw no reason to be a sitting duck. I am not generally a scofflaw. It just seemed like the sensible thing to do.
One night at about 10:00 PM, I drove through Palmer Park and spotted a man lying on the grass by the road. He had been traveling on foot in the park, but something was clearly wrong. Had he fallen or been beaten? Should I stop to help him? Was he even alive?
All kinds of thoughts raced and tumbled around in my mind. Having been raised a Christian, I knew the parable of The Good Samaritan. My conscience attacked me. How could I not stop to help a person in need? On the other hand, carjackers could be lurking in the dark, waiting for a victim. Guilt and concern overwhelmed me. Suppose I destroyed my chance of salvation by not helping? I wrestled and agonized over what to do, then decided.
I drove on, leaving the poor man behind. As soon as I got home, I called the police precinct near the park and reported what I had seen. The desk sergeant assured me that I had done the right thing, saying “We picked him up a few minutes ago. He was just drunk, not hurt, and you must never get out of your car when you’re alone. He will be fine. Thanks for calling.”
I remember this incident because it was one time when it seemed like doing the wrong thing was right. Maybe it was not so much about right or wrong as doing the smart thing. The police said it was right and it turned out well, but what would Jesus do? I wonder.