Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Man

While driving on Saturday afternoon, I noticed a van parked in a driveway on the right side of the road. The van's rear driver's side door was ajar, and next to the van was a person lying on the ground. It looked like a man, and he was not moving. I slowed down and tried to assess his condition with a quick glance. I wasn't exactly able to do an extensive visual triage while zooming past at 40-some MPH, so I basically had no more information than I did upon my first glimpse. He was making no signal of distress, but I couldn't imagine why he would be there by choice.

Questions started pouring into my mind - Is he hurt? Is he conscious? Is he alive? How long has he been there? Hasn't anyone else noticed him? Why hasn't anyone stopped to help him?

I looked for a place to turn around, and decided that if he was still on the ground when I got back to him, I was going to stop and help.

The questions kept coming - Maybe someone did stop, and he told them to leave because...I don't know...because he likes lying on the ground on rough asphalt? It sure didn't look like he was working on his car. He must be hurt. Why else would he be there? Could he be some psycho trying to trap someone by looking injured? I don't think so - Why would he do that on such a busy street? I can't just leave him there.

I turned the car around, and saw that the man had not moved. I pulled onto a side-street walked over to the man. As I approached, I could see that he was, indeed, hurt. His head was bleeding. He was frail, and the appearance of his face and body indicated that he had some sort of physical disability. As I came to his side I asked if he was alright, and what I could do to help him. My heart broke for him - lying alone on the ground, unable to get up, bleeding.

I touched his shoulder gently and said "I'm so sorry. You look hurt. How can I help you? What do you need? Do you need me to call an ambulance?" I could not tell how badly he was injured, but he was responsive.

He spoke softly, so I had to ask him to repeat himself. He said "The house. Please get someone from the house."

I asked him if he would be all right if I left him there while I ran to the door. He responded with a weak "Yes."

As I ran to the door, I prayed silent, urgent prayers. I was obviously concerned for this man's physical well-being; but even more than the physical injuries he sustained, I was wounded by the pain and loneliness that I saw as I looked deep into his eyes. I longed to just pray with him and tell him of the hope of the Cross. But in the moment, I knew he was probably more immediately concerned with getting up off the pavement and into the arms of people he knew and loved.

I knocked and called "Hello?"

I heard rustling inside. "Who is it?" (Were they were asking me, or talking to each other while looking out the open window?)

I spoke through the door - "There's a man in your driveway..."

I heard a female voice respond, "Oh, yes, I know," as the door opened to reveal a young woman, maybe in her late teens or early twenties. Her attire was... Middle Eastern? Indian? She appeared to be either Muslim or Hindu, based on her flowing garments and modest headscarf. My ignorance prevented me from a more accurate assessment, and the tension of the situation precluded any extraneous conversation.

They knew he was there in the driveway, but surely they didn't know...

"...he's hurt," I continued. "He fell and hit his head..."

A look of concern clouded her countenance as she began to make her exit through the doorway. "What? Are you kidding me?"

"No, he's bleeding. He needs help. He asked me to come get someone..."

She gasped a little as she bounded out the door and passed me in her haste.

Two young boys followed behind me as quickly we made our way down the path, toward the driveway.

The young woman reached the man's side just before me, and called to the boys, as she knelt beside him. "Get the wheelchair from inside!"

The man raised up a little and began to weep softly as she drew close. They spoke to each other rapidly, in a language I did not understand. As he leaned his torso against her, I could see blood on the ground from his side, as well as his head.

I was searching for words. "I'm so sorry. What can I do? I wish I could do more to help. I'm so sorry."

The young woman said apologetically "No, it's fine. Thank you so much. We'll get my mother. It'll be fine. Thank you."

I stood awkwardly for a moment as the boys rushed back with the wheelchair. The woman said again "It's ok. Thank you." In a tone that felt like she was asking me to leave. Not out of ungratefulness or anger, but...something else. A sense of responsibility for the accident, perhaps? Embarrassment that they didn't know he was lying there injured? In any case, I could feel that they no longer considered my presence helpful. I reluctantly made my way toward my car as they gingerly began to help the man get up.

That is the moment when my heart was torn in two. OH, how I wanted to stay. When I stopped, what I wanted to do the most was to pray for the man. Not just to pray a private prayer between myself and God, but to communicate something of God's love to him in a clear, tangible way. I wanted him to know that God loved him. That is why I turned around my car and came back. Yes, I wanted him up off the ground. But the deepest ache in my heart was that he would feel a touch from the Savior. I wanted to speak the words of Jesus over him. But in that moment, with their hurried voices in the background, I felt like an intrusion into a private moment of family crisis.

Should I have stayed? Should I have asked to pray silently beside them until the man was in the house? Should I have spoken and prayed boldly about the healing power of Jesus, even if such words would have been offensive and jarring in the midst of their pain? These are the questions that I carried as I began to drive away, and that linger still.


  1. That is quite the heart was with you all the way through.

    My mind went to exactly the same spots yours did as you described what you were seeing.

    I'm curious as to whether God has given you any confirmation or consolation about your desire to pray audibly for the man...

    You acted in a manner befitting Christ. You showed that family that there are those of us that care deeply for others.

    From my humble and still-very-much-learning status...your heart in the matter is what God was looking for.

    The man lying on the ground may have been there to show/remind YOUrself where your heart is instead of you telling the man that Jesus loves him with your mouth. For you told him with your actions without a doubt.

    All of the above are only considerations for seem to be so concerned about what you didn't do...when what you DID do was so loving.

    I came to you via kpjara...I've seen you commenting some of the same places I do and finally had a chance to come visit!

  2. Oh Sarah, what an experience. I can totally relate to how your feeling! Years and years ago as I was driving to work, I found a lady lying on the sidewalk too! She was coherent and not bleeding however. I ran to a house to call and ambulance for her, but the same as you I did not have a chance to say or do anything to "witness" to her. It bothered me for a long time, too, wondering if I should have barged through her pain to talk to her. But you know I finally realized that I was praying the whole time in my mind and heart, and still I never really had the opportunity so I have to believe and pray that the love of Christ touched her through the help and love of a stranger and that might have been a catalyst for something else God was working in her life. Seems to me you showed love and caring as far as you were allowed in the situation and now I pray that God would use that in their lives to draw them unto Himself!

  3. Oh my goodness... what a story!!!

    Do not beat yourself up over the what "if's". Pray for this man and the family as they come to mind. Know that God can use your actions to reveal Himself to them despite the words you did or did not use. He can work in mighty ways.

    Even if you had shared, prayed, etc. they may have been in so much distress and shock to not have processed it well... or even at all.

    Be confident that God does not need words to speak to a person's heart! You did the right thing and God can use and answer your prayers even now.

    What a lovely example of Christ's love that was! And what a lovely heart to be soft, so very tender, towards Him and sharing Him. I'm confident that pleases God!

  4. Tam, Susanne, Momrn2 - Thanks for your thoughtful and kind comments. You are right - I do believe that I communicated the love of Christ through my actions. Nevertheless, there remains the issue of one man's (and an entire family's) eternal destiny hanging in the balance.

    For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:13-15)

    I felt (and still feel) the weight of God upon me in an unusual way for this family. I am still asking the Lord what that means - is it just a call to intercession, or something more?

    My original wording of the last sentence, with "plagued me" and "haunt", was too strong. I edited to reflect more my real feelings - the questions linger, but not in an accusatory way. I feel no condemnation for my actions. I acted out of love, not fear. I believe I honored the Lord. And yet, I still long for something more.

  5. I believe you not only honored the Lord but you also honored the people's wishes. To do anything more would have put you in the position of "pushy Christian". You walked through the door that was open to you by stopping for this man and you didn't force the door that was closed to you at that time. Trust that the Lord knows exactly what He is doing. He brought a family into your life that you would have otherwise never known about. I believe your actions have stirred their hearts more than your words could have. It's all about His timing, isn't it?
    I totally understand that "longing for something more". I have felt it for years now as the Lord has placed people in my life.
    I pray you are encouraged today. You were obedient. He can definitely do the rest!!

  6. and now we all pray with you.

    and for you.