I groaned as I saw the flashing construction vehicles and the line of red brake lights ahead of me. I was taking my son to school, and we hadn’t left early enough to allow for delays like this. Some cars were already doing U-turns, presumably to go another route. But our detour option was a much longer way, so I decided to wait a few minutes before making a knee-jerk reaction. Sure enough, a minute later the cars ahead of me slowly started inching forward. Whew. But as I approached the cause of the backup, I could see this wasn’t just construction. There was a car with a smashed front end sitting in the middle of the four-lane road, and there was a man lying on the ground next to the driver’s side, two construction workers kneeling beside him. Clearly, the accident had happened very recently, since the emergency workers hadn’t yet shown up. It was a horrifying feeling to pass right by the man on the ground, not knowing his condition or even if he was alive. My son and I prayed for him and for the others involved in the accident, and we were fairly silent the rest of the drive, until my son said, “You know, Mr. Smith would have stopped to see if he could help.” It was an innocent observation; he didn’t mean it as a guilt trip, but I was convicted nonetheless. I should have stopped, but I didn’t. It was a modern-day parable of the Good Samaritan, and I was the priest passing by on the other side.
Years ago my husband and I took a vacation to Florida. One morning as we were on our way to breakfast we got stopped by this guy who offered us a free breakfast and a gift card for listening to a short presentation. Being still rather naive, we agreed, only to find out it was a sales pitch for a time share. And despite what the first guy had said, this was certainly not a “short” presentation. We were in no position whatsoever to be investing in a time share at that point in our lives, but the salesman kept reiterating one point throughout his speech. He said it so often we still use it as an inside joke. This was his trump card; his best argument. With a time share, he pointed out, you get a deed. When you stay in a hotel, “All you get is a receipt.”