Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Today You... Tomorrow Me"

"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world." James 1:27
First, let me apologize for my lack in postings as of late. A multitude of things have kept me away. However, I wanted to share this story with you. It moved me and made me rock back on my heels and truly examine myself.
The story I'm about to share with you is a true story, and I tell it as it was told to me. It begins with a young man who was making his way back home on the interstate in a Jeep he didn't own when he blew a tire. He thought to himself that this is no big deal, he would just change the tire and be on his way. However, his friend didn't have a jack big enough to fit the Jeep, leaving him stranded on the side of the road. With no other options, he had to rely on his fellow travelers to come to his rescue.
So the young man made a sign and put it in the window of the broke down Jeep stating that he needed a jack, and even offered to pay any passerby who happened to stop. None did. Though many people passed by him, and could see he was in desperate need, none could be bothered to stop and offer him any assistance. Even a few tow trucks came by and didn't bother to check on him. The feeling of hopelessness was beginning to grow As the fourth hour of being stranded rolled around, the man was growing hungry, and knew he was going to have to make the dangerous decision to hitch hike his way out of there.
Just as he was about to give up all hope, a white van pulled up.
From the white van, a man traveling with his entire family hops out and walks over. The man doesn't say a word to the stranded traveler, but instead inspects the situation with the tire. He looks at the sign in the window, but makes no gesture of understanding. Speaking spanish, the man calls his young daughter from the van. She speaks English and she tells the traveler that they are immigrants from Mexico working in the local produce fields, and that her father doesn't speak English. As she is speaking with the young man she asks if he has eaten anything, and offers him a tamale from their cooler. As she is feeding the stranded traveler, he looks over and notices that the father has cut a log from a downed tree on the side of the road to make the jack fit. The young man rushes over to assist, jacks the Jeep up, and begins taking the lug nuts off of the wheel when he snaps the father's tire iron. The father doesn't blink an eye, and instead sends his wife off in the van to fetch another tire iron. She quickly returns with another one, and finally the tire is changed.
As the father is cleaning up, the no longer stranded traveler gets $20 from his wallet to pay the father, but he refuses to accept. The traveler then tries to quietly slip it to the mother, and she takes it. A few moments pass and the father and daughter are loaded back into their van. They give the traveler a tamale but refuse payment, and he thanks them again. As he is walking back to his now repaired Jeep, he unwraps the tin foil around the tamale to find nothing else than the $20 he gave the mother. He rushes back to the drivers side of the van to give it back to the father who had been more than gracious to him when the father just shakes his head and smiles. Using great concentration and searching for the words, the father says the simple yet powerful words, "Today you... tomorrow me." With that, he rolled his window up and drove away, leaving the young man with a repaired Jeep, a full stomach and his $20.
It's interesting to me to think that it was a stranger, whom this young traveler considered poorer and less fortunate than him, who made such an impact in his life. The traveler, in telling this story, said that he has not been the same since. When he sees someone broke down, no matter how busy he is, he stops and does whatever it is he can to help them get back on the road.
I wanted to share this story with you because it is the very essence of what we, as Christians are supposed to be on a daily basis (Lk 9:23). However, all too often we find ourselves too busy to notice those around us who may be spiritually stranded. This story should ring close to home because after all, we are all migrant workers in this world ourselves (Mk 16:15,16). However, rather than picking peaches and cherries, our fields of harvest are souls (John 4:35).
Have we been worrying so much about our own spiritual journey that we've failed to see those broke down on the side of the road, crying out for help? Are we moving so fast that we can't read the signs? If so, let us remember our Christian duty to bring others out of hopelessness, and onto their own spiritual journeys with God (Mk 1:17). After all, we know that the road of a Christian is not one paved in gold (Acts 14:22). Rather it is full of pot holes, lost souls, and flat tires. You never know when you yourself may be in need of assistance again. So slow down long enough to remember, "Today you...tomorrow me."

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