In the early morning of Jan. 8, I was in my home office praying for guidance concerning this column. I had “writer’s block,” and inspiration was in short supply. Suddenly, I realized that the background noise outside was the whine of spinning of tires in the intersection in front of our home. As I parted the curtains, I saw a small person trying to dig the accumulated snow and ice out from under their car — with a long-handled ice scraper and brush. The car was hopelessly stuck in record snow of Boise.
Now I was not dressed to go outside, nor did I possess anything to help eradicate the vehicle from the snow-ice berm in the intersection. Also, I reasoned, I am a heart patient and should not be exerting myself. And what I know about cars could be put in a thimble and still leave room for an elephant. But I could not ignore the struggle of one small person stuck in the intersection.
Stuffing my feet in snow boots and donning my coat, I grabbed my small plastic snow shovel and ventured out in the dark to see what assistance I might render. The driver was a small woman alone and in great distress. I tried to shovel out from under her tires while she futilely tried to move the car backwards or forwards. I pushed, she drove. I drove, she pushed. Nothing.
Suddenly, there were lights from on-coming vehicles approaching from two directions. Wonderful. Help was on the way. But we watched as three different SUVs carefully drove around us and continued down the street. I was appalled. The drivers could clearly see we needed help.
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I could not see the drivers through darkened windows, but I reasoned that perhaps they were small ladies who probably could not render much assistance. Or maybe they were older men with health issues and had to be somewhere without delay. I understood, because I have driven by other people — with those same reasons justifying my decision.
After several minutes and unsuccessful attempts, another set of headlights approached. Our hopes were realized as three National Guardsmen got out of their vehicle, got behind the bumper, and pushed as I drove the car out of the snow berm.
Before getting back in her car, the driver introduced herself as Tiffany, who lived just two streets over. After many expressions of thanks to these anonymous guardsmen, I watched as these “liberators” followed Tiffany up the street until she was safely on her way.
As I wearily sloshed back home through the snow, I realized that perhaps God had indeed answered my prayer for something to write. My experience was reminiscent of Jesus’ story about the “Good Samaritan” in Luke 10:25-37. I certainly was no hero, the National Guardsmen were. Neither could I remain offended by those who drove by without offering to help, for I had done that myself.
But I was reminded of Jesus’ definition of a “neighbor.” I don’t know how long this lady has lived in our subdivision, but in the cold darkness of that January morning, Tiffany and I were not “Facebook friends,” but we became “neighbors” as we tried to dig her car out of a snow-clogged intersection.
Loren A. Yadon is pastor of New Life Fellowship of Boise.
The Idaho Statesman's weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.