“But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.” – Luke 10:33 (NRSV)
As a child back in Sunday school, I remember that we all wanted to be the Good Samaritan. Even after getting sidetracked in situational ethics—When it is safe or not safe to stop on the side of the road? Should children do that? If not, how old do you have to be?—we all aspired to get the gold star for being a good person.
But this is a story about humility. It’s too convenient to aspire to be the character who has the control. It requires deeper, spiritual work to relate to the one who feels abandoned in the ditch. Ditch happens. This story is yours to read from the “ditchiest” places in your otherwise beautiful life.
This story finally got real for me in midlife, after spending some time in a ditch of my own making. It was excruciating to lay low and watch people walk on by. But after indulging in a bit of bitterness, my perspective started to change. When a few folks did stop to help me along the way, it felt like a miracle. My helpers were humble, offering private kindness without a networking agenda or a social media photo opportunity. I remember how God-sent they seemed to be.
Looking back on those people, I see a theme. They had all spent some time in the ditch. They remembered it, they admitted it, and they allowed that experience to tenderize them. Today I remember each one of their names, but I do not call them Good Samaritans. I think God is the Good Samaritan in the story. As for the rest of us, we are just ditch dwellers, some of whom God will use in the rescue effort of life.
Love me in the ditch, God, and use me on the side of the road.
Lillian Daniel’s new book Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To: Spirituality without Stereotypes, Religion without Ranting is now available for purchase, but you can hear it all for free at 1st Congregational Church of Dubuque, Iowa.