Most of the dangerous adventures I encounter happen to fictional characters and take place within my imagination. But one morning this past week, I encountered a [slightly] dangerous real life situation.
My 7 year old and I pulled out of our neighborhood onto a busy six lane road en route to the gym. I was driving in the middle lane when my car suddenly died. Luckily, there were no other cars nearby and I had enough momentum to steer over to the curb. I immediately checked the gas gauge. Empty.
Have you seen any of the chipmunk movies? In the movies, Dave, the caretaker of the chipmunks, screams, “AL-VIN!” every time Alvin (the most mischievous of the chipmunks) does something ornery. Well, when I saw that gas gauge I mentally screamed out my husband’s name in a very similar way. You see, my husband had driven my car the entire day before.
Now. In my husband’s defense, he’d been driving my car because he’d taken it to get it inspected. My husband is a wonderful guy. He’s a funny, trustworthy, honorable, hard working dad and husband. He’s never had even one sip of alcohol, he doesn’t do drugs, or sky dive, or cliff jump. Here’s how he flirts with danger…. He lets the gas gauges on cars dip frighteningly low.
So, my 7 year old and I now find ourselves inside an out-of-gas car on a six lane road. I’m somewhat worried that we’ll be mowed into from behind, so I hustle my daughter out of the car and we stand on the road’s grassy shoulder. I call the man who likes to let the gas gauge dip frighteningly low. No answer.
Less than thirty seconds later, a woman pulls up behind us to ask if we need help. When I explain, she immediately offers to drive us to the gas station. I gratefully accept her offer. Not only does she drive us to the gas station, but she waits while I purchase a gas can, figure out how to operate the gas can, and fill it with gas. Then she drives us back to our car.
Guess what was hanging from our good Samaritan’s rear view mirror.
Guess where she was headed when she came upon us.
To church to meet with her pastor.
She told me that she has a passion for helping and empowering women in the Lord. I told her that we’re Christians and that God had clearly sent her our way right when we needed her.
I emptied the gas into my car’s tank by darting out into the road each time there were no cars coming and darting back to the grassy shoulder each time more cars rounded the bend.
My 7 year old stood safely against the shoulder’s fence, clutching her doll, watching me with round eyes.
While I was pouring gas from the can into the tank, two more cars stopped to offer help. One man pulled out into the road behind me with his hazards on to help direct traffic around my car. Another man offered me the gas he had stored in the back of his truck if I needed it.
In no time, we were safely on our way to the gas station.
That’s what our [slightly] dangerous real life situation proved to me anew. As I thought more about it, I heard God whispering another lesson….
I was very quick to tell the lady who gave us a lift to the gas station that my predicament was my husband’s fault. He left me a car with no gas! There’s no way I could have made it to a gas station on so little gas!
It’s so ingrained in us to default to the belief that those who’ve done nothing wrong are deserving of help, while those who’ve brought hardship on themselves by their own mistakes are less deserving of help. Isn’t it? I wanted my good Samaritan to know that I hadn’t really deserved the consequence that had befallen me so that: 1) I could save face 2) she could feel extra good about helping me.
But, see, Jesus never let the fact that sinners had made bad choices stop him from acting with compassion or extending undeserved love and grace.
The woman and the two men who so quickly stopped to offer me help modeled Christ-like service. They didn’t ask and they didn’t care whether or not it was my fault that I’d run out of gas. They just acted from compassion. They extended help without judgment.
I was reminded of this passage from John 8:9b-11 concerning Jesus’s words to the adulterous woman He’d saved when the Pharisees wanted to stone her to death for her actions:
“…only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’
‘No one, sir,’ she said.
‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared.”
Her predicament was her fault. But Jesus helped her and offered her grace, anyway. The perfect, spotless Lamb did not condemn her.
He can be trusted to provide for us and He can be trusted to call on us to serve others by providing our help and grace to them in His name.