The tire was definitely flat. Not just a little flat, but all the way, completely flat! At least we were not stranded on a deserted country road in bad weather. In fact, it was quite the opposite. It was a camp meeting Sabbath, and it was a beautiful, sunny day. Church service had just ended, and people were streaming out of the academy gymnasium doors. Some folk were gathering in small groups, renewing old acquaintances or making new friends. Children were laughing and running about, glad for a chance to play. But most people were heading to the parking lot with dinner on their minds.
Because muscular dystrophy kept my husband in a wheelchair, we parked closer to the building than most folk, making it necessary for people to pass by us on their way to their cars. It was easily obvious to even the most casual observer that George was physically unable to change the tire. Trying to lighten the situation with a bit of his usual upbeat humor, he reminded my sister and me that the “the tire was only flat on the bottom.” While humor might put a momentary smile on our faces, all three of us knew that it was not going to solve this problem.
Opening the trunk, I looked first at the jack and the spare tire, then at the people walking by. We needed help, but almost everyone, of course, was dressed in their Sabbath best, and in somewhat of a hurry. After flashing a quick prayer heavenward, I said, “I wonder how God is going to take care of this for us.”
It was interesting to watch people walk by. A few folk, who may have looked somewhat familiar, were walking quickly in the direction of the parking lot. Others, lost in their own thoughts or conversations, seemed not to notice our dilemma. Some, not even breaking their stride, offered sympathetic smiles as they strolled along. But most of those passing by were looking rather uncomfortable as they purposely glanced the other way.
About this time we were beginning to feel a little like the biblical ox fallen into a pit on the Sabbath day. Then we saw him. Hardly noticeable in the approaching crowd, a tall dark-haired stranger was already taking off his suit coat and handing it to his wife. While still a short distance away, he began to roll up the sleeves of his white Sabbath shirt, as he turned and looked at his teenage son who was walking beside him. I knew that my prayer was moments away from being answered.
Following a few kinds words in greeting, he began the task at hand, talking softly to his son as they worked together to get the job done, seemingly unaware of the parade of spectators. It was not long before he wiped his hands clean and closed the trunk lid with a smile.
With a wave of his hand, he refused our offer of any type of payment. Then our Sabbath Samaritan walked out of our lives as quietly as he had walked in. We had never seen him before, and have not seen him since; but his compassion and kindness will long be remembered. Nameless, he had given us a very special Sabbath blessing. As he and his family disappeared out of sight, I could not help thinking about the blessing he also received. It is a wise man who can both fill a need for another while modeling practical Christianity for his young son. It was indeed an opportunity not to be missed.
Somehow the sky seemed a little bluer and the sunshine a little brighter as we made our way home with thanksgiving in our hearts. God bless you, Sabbath Samaritan, wherever you are.