(First, to define a Michigander: it’s what Michigan natives call themselves. Don’t laugh. Their alternatives are Michiganians or Michiganites!)
It was a cold Sunday afternoon, with blizzard-like conditions in the forecast, and from my second-story perch I witnessed a twenty-first century version of the parable of the Good Samaritan. It took place at the intersection of Lincoln and Main, where a blinking light is required to direct the whirling traffic. (My picture captures the hubbub masterfully.)
What drew my attention to the window in the first place was a series of repetitive honking (kind of like that sentence), which naturally aroused the curiosity of this southerner who has rarely heard more than two consecutive honks in her lifetime.
Turns out there was a sedan stuck in the snow, and the impatient SUV behind it was not very understanding. The driver of the sedan got out and yelled in an angered tone, “I’m stuck here! That’s how as I’m stopped!” (Now you grammar gurus just stay calm, but that is actually what he said.)
The SUV backed up, for reasons I assumed to be for making room for the roused feller. But no, it was just to give himself space to drive around him and go on his merry way! I couldn’t believe that he just left him there!
Just then a third car drove up from behind who, sadly, was led astray by the bad example and also did not take the time to help the obviously stuck vehicle who could now go neither forward nor backward. These stuffy yankees, I thought. I was ready to throw on my coat and boots and push him out myself! (Because you know how muscular I am.)
But as it turns out, chivalry still exists in the north. Out of nowhere, a hooded man with a shovel walked up and offered to help. (Not exactly the gallant-looking hero you might expect.) He kindly directed the driver which way to try again, and pushed from behind as the tires spun aimlessly in the slush. Bout this time another vehicle came down the street, and upon seeing the car in distress and the Samaritan in the road, he jumped out of his Land Rover and rushed to help the poor guy out.
With a few heave-hos from the two men, the little sedan soon found its way across the intersection and back into the land of traction. But before he had gone far, the beneficiary who previously was angered by one man’s impatience, was softened by another’s act of kindness. He shouted out a thanks through the window with the wave of his hand and then was off. And so were the two Good Michiganders, trudging back to their cars and wishing each other a good day.
I couldn’t help but think what an impact a kind word or action can have in someone’s life. The same man who yelled in frustration one minute was calling out words of thanks in the next, simply because he was shown some kindness.
But our wrong actions also have consequences in leading others astray, as with the first driver’s choice to ignore the situation, which encouraged the next car to follow suit.
Consider the striking difference in these two proverbs,
“As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.” (Prov. 26:21)
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” (Prov. 25:11)
One is very picturesque, while the other is very . . . well . . . not.
As a follower of Christ, I am to show to others the love that He has shown me. I am also charged to live at peace with one another. Which of these two word pictures resembles love and peace?
As the first-century parable ended, so does this one: “Go and do likewise”.