Have You Ever Participated In A Miracle?
What about if a miracle is inconvenient? How are we supposed to react when we are in a rush, on the phone or preoccupied in our regular routines? What if we are not in the mood?
In his landmark book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of a New York woman named Kitty Genovese who was attacked three times, chased, and later killed by an assailant while a staggering thirty-eight people watched from their windows and heard her screams.
Though witnesses to this terrible crime, they stood back and did nothing.
Like the priest and the scribe who hurried by a beaten countryman that lay in the street in the Good Samaritan story, these people had the power to change history before it happened.
They might have saved a life. Maybe not. But no one will ever know because they didn’t even try.
Most of us are not presented with such dramatic opportunities on a daily basis, but you never know when you could change a life, or bring a smile.
One Thursday, I got the chance.
While on a run, I saw an elderly woman walking in front of me on the sidewalk.
She wobbled a bit as she walked and appeared as if she might be dizzy. I didn’t want to startle her by running beside her on the sidewalk, so I bounded into the street and kept moving. I turned back to say good morning as I went by, and checked to see if she was okay. We made eye contact and she waved me over.
“Do you know where the bus stop is? And how far is the credit union?”
After speaking with her I learned that she had been walking for a very long time. This sweet lady was 83 years old and needed to get to the bank but her children didn’t want her to drive anymore.
So she decided to travel the 5 miles to the credit union on foot.
She was visibly exhausted and her breathing was labored.
She explained to me that she had hip replacement surgery two years ago and that she was hurting because of the long walk.
I stood there looking at the little old lady, unsure of what to do. I didn’t have a car, no phone, and even though she didn’t look too heavy, I couldn’t put her on my back and carry her to the bank or to her house.
I wasn’t sure how much the bus fare was or if the bus-stop was even close by. Besides, I had a run to finish.
What to do?
Maybe I could wish her the best, pray a quick prayer, and take off and finish my run. I thought about running to a telephone booth and calling for help, but I didn’t have any money.
And honestly, when was the last time you saw a phone booth anyway? With the explosion of mobile phones, payphones are more scarce than a reasonable gas price.
Maybe I could knock on someone’s door to use their phone to call for some help. Well, even though I was trying to help a little old woman, it would be pretty awkward for me, a strange man standing on someone’s doorstep trying to explain this situation and not sound crazy, like a liar, or a home invader.
So, I turned and ran back to my business office, which was about 10 or so minutes away. I would ask my administrative assistant about giving this lady a ride back to the credit union and then back to her house.
But before I took off, I told her what I was going to do and how I was going to try to help.
The woman gave a surprised smile and asked, “Are you an angel?”
After running as fast as I could, I got to my office and told Allison the whole story.
She and I went to meet this woman who was standing by a fence waiting for us. She was overjoyed and thankful when we got there and attempted to give us her bus fare as payment for our trouble (we kindly refused).
Her smile told such an amazing tale.
How often do we get to participate in a miracle? Who on our daily “run” are we supposed to help, but we missed it because we weren’t paying attention?
I am just happy that on a Thursday afternoon I at least got one right. You never know if today is the day where we are going to change history, make someone smile, or even save a life.
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Leadership catalyst that uses art, the written/spoken word, and creativity to help organizations and individuals find their unique purpose and the courage to live it out. A 17-year veteran of pastoral ministry, Julian lives in Grand Rapids with his wife Tiffany and his 3 daughters.