Over the years, I’ve been continually challenged by the opportunities we are given to serve those who have for some reason or another come into our lives.
Years ago I remember stopping at a gas station one morning and being approached by a guy who said his wife and son were stuck on the highway and he was trying to get enough money to buy gas needed to get them on their way. In putting on my ‘good Samaritan cape’ I quickly went into action, both going to the ATM withdrawing money and then further soliciting money from other gas station patrons to help this family in need!! He thanked me over and over with continued “God bless You’s”, and “you’re and angel sent from heaven” to which I thanked him.
I headed off to my meeting feeling a definite sense of ‘I could actually go home now; my day is complete for I have served those in need’……this was followed of course by a choir of angels singing hallelujah lifting their arms to heaven and exclaiming “well done good and faithful servant”!!!….what a great person am I!!!!
Coming out of my meeting some hours later, and still on this “serving high” as I was driving back to my office I noticed this person that I, let me again emphasize that “I”, “me” had personally and solely helped hours earlier standing out in front of the same gas station. Stopping to inquire as to his family and the present situation he told me he was now waiting for a tow truck and needed more money in order for this to happen. Donning my ‘cape’, I again headed to the ATM to help this desperate soul in need!!! As I began to withdraw money the attendant who must have recognized me from earlier, “hey buddy, please don’t tell me you’re helping that guy?”. Not saying anything initially my thought was “of course I am, can’t you see my ‘good Samaritan cape’? Do you know who I am?” He began to explain to me that this same guy frequently stood in front of the station using a similar story to gain monies from us suspecting patrons. Feeling completely taken, it was now time to confront this imposter, and to bring light to his indiscretions. Possibly I could lead him to repentance, and renew a soul! Upon engaging with him, he simply laughed, and said: “its unsuspecting jerks like you that fund my day….thanks, idiot!!!”
This was definitely a reality check moment…..no more hallelujah choir, and my “good Samaritan cape” was now shredded. Feeling extremely sorry for myself, my emotions damaged I vowed to never, I mean NNNNEEEVVVVEEEEEERRRRRR let this happen again. No one gets help….…NOOOO ONEEEEE!!!! Now who’s the jerk?….now who’s the idiot? Not me brother, not me!!
Soon after this experience and after proudly turning away a number of ‘seekers of money’ I found myself again confronted with a person in need, a mom with kids and no gas only, this time, she was not asking for money….just asking for gas enough to get home….that’s all. My internal guard system clicked on as if to say “another person scrounging off others…..send them on their way!!
This is earth to Steve…..have you completely lost your mind”? Is this really you thinking and acting in this way???, why exactly do you serve???…to bring accolades to YOU!?!?!!?!?…..so you can wear your ‘good Samaritan cape’!?!?!? Open your eyes!!!
I must say that this eye-opening experience brought me to the place that while knowing why I did what I did that day, I really must say a word of thanks to this mom for renewing the belief within me that we are not called to critically evaluate the motives of those in need, we are called to open our hearts to them. I have come to believe that in life there are times we need to discern “are we the doctor or the pusher”. Are we helping a situation to be better, or are we creating a dependency that neither they nor we will ever end?”
For me, it brought me back to that place of seeing and believing “the more we serve the more opportunities we will be given to serve”…….I hope to always be aware of, and open to these opportunities.