“Thank you for being a Good Samaritan.”
Our pen sickness caused by Covid-19 grew, so my wife and I began searching for places in the great outdoors where we could take our two oldest grandboys hiking.
The morning came for our hike. The grandboys seethed with excitement. They didn’t care for the two-hour drive, but they persevered. As we pulled into the parking lot for the trailhead, red tape with a closed sign greeted us. We sighed. Our second option required thirty more minutes of driving. The directions to this hidden waterfall were vague. Since I didn’t print them out but relied on my All Trails app, we hit a snag: no cell service.
We decided on a direction and headed out. After a short distance, we met a group of senior ladies. They knew nothing about the falls, but told us the trail ahead got somewhat tricky and might not be safe for our young grandsons. We turned around. Perhaps the waterfalls were not on this trail at all but at the campgrounds we passed on the way. Although the campground also had a kiosk, we still could not determine the location of the hidden falls. However, another waterfall nestled nearby. We decided on that one.
As we crossed a footbridge, a curious sight greeted us: several elementary-aged children swung in hammocks. After passing by, I asked my wife, “Did you see any adults there?”
After many pictures and cautious steps, we reached the falls. A magnificent site as thousands of gallons of water poured over rocks more than a hundred feet high.
On the way back, we passed the children in the hammocks again. Only this time, a woman was with them, and the oldest boy called out, “My mom is hurt.” I walked over. The mom had tangled herself in the hammock, fallen out, and injured her knee.
What to do? No cell service. With my back and knees subject to buckle at any time, I didn’t I could carry her out, especially since we were almost a mile from the car and half of that distance was uphill. We decided on a plan. She gave me her husband and her father’s cell number. I promised to call them as soon as we received service. She assured me they had plenty of supplies and could even camp that night if needed.
I anxiously watched the service bars on my phone as my wife drove out of the campground and onto the highway. Fortunately, after only one mile, signal appeared. I called her husband. No answer. I assumed he didn’t answer because he didn’t recognize the number. I left a voice mail and immediately called back. He answered. I heard hesitancy in his voice. Probably thought I was a scammer. But after giving him specific details, he listened. I gave him markings where his wife was and told him to call me after they got her out. He lived almost two hours away.
Four hours later, he called, told me he and his father-in-law had made a makeshift sling to carry her out, and were on their way to the emergency room. Then he thanked me for being a Good Samaritan.
Although a few other people hiked the same trail, perhaps we were the last ones for the day and were supposed to be on that trail to help a stranded mom and her children. God gave us an opportunity to do good.
Jesus encountered those opportunities on a regular basis. On this occasion, He was on His way to heal the young daughter of a synagogue leader when a woman who had suffered for twelve years with a bleeding issue touched Him. He healed her too. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace” (Luke 8:48 NLT).
Since the second greatest command is to love our neighbors, I suppose God wants us to go about doing good for them. When we pray for opportunities, God will send them, but it takes our sensitivity to the Spirit’s prompting to notice when they come along. It also takes sacrifice. Helping others costs something, but the advantages always outweigh the inconveniences. Making excuses as to why we can’t help is the easy way out. Ignoring the reasons we shouldn’t help—and helping anyway—may be more difficult, but it is God’s way.
So, take a look around. You just might see the opportunities God sends for you to love a neighbor.