These are familiar words to us as they speak to the human tendency to judge others based on their appearance. Yesterday they struck home with force for me.
My family was traveling back to Michigan from a visit to my wife's parents in Nebraska. We left at 4:00 AM and were making great time when a flat tire on our borrowed trailer left us stranded along I-80/94 in Indiana just east of Chicago. For those familiar with the road you know how heavy the traffic can be especially the truck traffic.
I rummaged around my car for the jack (which had never seen the light of day) and began to work on the tire. Since I had no spare for the trailer I needed to get to a garage and get it fixed or replaced. We were going to call 911 for assistance but we didn't know exactly where we were (we broke down between mile markers) so I began to walk toward the next exit to be able to read the sign and determine our location. At least 30 minutes had passed by this point and not a soul stopped to inquire or lend a hand.
As I walked a tired, blue, late 80s Oldsmobile pulled to the shoulder about 1/4 mile away. There was too much traffic and debris for him to back up but he was clearly waiting for me. As I approached the car a black man got out. He was close to my age, about 6'2", and wearing a University of Michigan shirt. I didn't know what to expect. As I explained my predicament I spied a 'fish' emblem on his car and asked him about it -- it turned out that he was a Christian. More than once he had broken down and had to walk long distances with no one stopping to offer him help. He simply didn't want anyone to experience what he went through.
To make a long story short the man's name was Anthony and his buddy's name was Larry. They had been in Chicago to help Anthony's daughter with some home repairs and they were on their way back to Holland, Michigan. Anthony was unemployed and had just gotten called for a temporary job beginning at 6:00 PM in Holland.
When I got in the car there was an open Bible in the back seat. They gave me a ride to the next exit (Michigan City, Indiana) and took me to a Wal-Mart where I got a new tire for the trailer. As we parted ways I thanked him profusely, gave him my card and $20 for his time. He seemed hesitant to take the money, as if that would take away from his kindness, but I insisted that he take it. In return he simply asked that I keep him in my prayers.
I suppose that I could've written this account as a modern day version of the parable of the Good Samaritan but I didn't have time. Of the hundreds of vehicles that passed our broken down car during that 2 hour stretch of time only an unemployed black man had time to stop to lend a hand. That says a lot about our culture but it also says a lot about this man. Anthony, thanks for your assistance. I pray that God will meet your every need. I also pray that I will be as kind to strangers as you were to me.