This week I will reproduce (with permission) a text my son wrote last week on his Facebook, which I thought fits the purpose of my short stories from life:
The World On My Doorstep (a.k.a. Lessons of Compassion and Humility)
Here are two stories from my past week. Sorry, they’re a bit wordy… but you shouldn’t expect anything else from me.
Last week as I sat in my living room unwinding from a long week, a flurry of noise came from the stairwell outside my door. With a frustrated grunt, I paused my show and grabbed my keys to march out the door. I was gearing up to deal out some sharp words to my noisy neighbor. As my feet hit the last step, I was quickly aware that something was off. Upon opening the door the full scene was revealed: a young man was collapsed on the sidewalk in front of my house and a frantic girl next to him pleading on the phone with operators to dispatch an ambulance.
Feeling a God-sized smack on the back of the head, I knelt down to help the girl with the young man that by this time was vomiting and convulsing from an apparent heroin overdose. Paramedics did arrive in short order as well as two police squad cars. The professionals saved his life by administering anti-narcotics and took him to the hospital for further treatment.
The commotion dies down and the flashing lights fade to the end of the street and I’m left standing next to a much shaken up twenty one year old girl without a ride home. As I drove her to her parents’ house she recounts that this isn’t that young man’s first close call, but that this one might land him in jail. Finding myself thoroughly ill-equipped to provide a word of comfort I genuinely assured her that I’d be praying. She thanked me and with that our destination approached.
This sudden episode of reality urged me to take the long way back home as I drove and thought. An overly “churchy” phrase that I have always disliked kept doing laps in my head: “Save but for the grace of God.” A phrase meant to express that it could have been me on that sidewalk, if not for God’s guidance and presence in my life. Being thoroughly humbled for the evening I set my alarm and headed to bed for the night.
8 a.m. arrived too quickly on Saturday morning. It was to be another day of lessons; whether it was that the first time just hadn’t sunk in or because God knows I’m a slow learner. I hopped in my car to return to the auto shop where I had purchased a brand new tire not 7 days before. I was bent on sternly, but “respectfully”, giving them a piece of my mind for the tire that was already leaking and nearly flat again.
As I crossed the doorstep of the store, God figuratively clamped His hand of my mouth long enough for me to rethink all the snide remarks I had concocted on the drive over. As I sat in the partially full waiting area, I overheard someone express their condolences to one of the employees for his loss. I came to learn that one of their co-workers had recently taken his own life after going home for lunch. Soon my tires were repaired and inflated and I left with a significantly deflated ego.
Some lessons learned: Using some “Christianese” terms on occasion is okay. God will put me in humbling situations as many times as it takes for me to get it. My short fuse has the capacity to sabotage opportunities to pray for people and speak hope into their lives if not stopped by a holy intervention.