5:00pm last night Neal and I headed to Mass. About one block away from the church we see this man sprawled out on the sidewalk with a wheelchair next to him. Quick to respond, Neal pulled over, hopped out of the car and went to this man’s aid. When he looked down at the man he realized he knew him, he was a fellow parishioner who had been on a parish retreat with Neal. With the help of another gentleman who had stopped they picked up our friend and put him back in his wheelchair.
Next thing I know I see a woman stopping traffic and Neal was wheeling the man across the street to a McDonald’s. Finally my brain kicked into gear and I climbed into the driver’s seat (we were still parked in the middle of a busy street) and pulled our car into the grocery store parking lot. The woman who had been stopping traffic had her car in the turn lane of the grocery store blocking traffic with her car door wide open, engine running. I didn’t think twice, hopped into this stranger’s car and backed it out of the turn lane into safety. When I got out of the car she was coming toward me. “Thank you,” she said. “I think your husband wants you to meet him over at the McDonald’s.”
Once I met Neal and the gentleman at McDonald’s I realized I knew this man too and my heart sped up with more worry. I could tell something wasn’t quite right. Turns out he was struggling with dips in his blood sugar and we needed to get something into his system quick. He had been working at the grocery store and wasn’t feeling well so he told his manager and then headed in his wheelchair to cross the busy street to go to McDonald’s when his wheelchair hit a hole in the sidewalk and flipped him. He is paralyzed from his waist down so had no use of his legs plus he was weak from the low sugar levels.
We sat with him while he ate and slowly he began to come around to his normal self. What endeared me more to this man is how clear he struggled to overcome his pride and accept Neal and I helping him. He knew he was in a bind and needed to get food into his system yet he kept insisting we didn’t have to stay. We certainly weren’t going to leave him alone and we wanted to make sure he got home safely.
During our short visit in McDonald’s God showed up in a huge way…this man confided in his struggle to accept the love that God has for him. When I pointed out that God was taking care of him and that it was no coincidence that Neal and I happened upon the very spot he fell he let tears fall. God didn’t just bring someone to help this man get back up, he sent a man with whom he’d shared a deeply rich spiritual experience. As the light came back into this man’s eyes I took a peek at Neal and could see the same occurring for him.
God is intentional.
Another unspoken but deep acknowledgment was Neal and I facing a fear head on. What will Neal’s circumstances be in 10 years? 20? We do well living day to day with his diagnosis of MS and we try to live life to the fullest while we can and have the capabilities putting aside what might be in Neal’s future. But sometimes you have to acknowledge it so it won’t blind side if/when the day comes. Neal’s MS symptoms attack his spine and legs more than any other aspect and so we travel and do as much as we can and afford to now so we have the least regrets later.
Helping this man in need, particularly this need, was as intentional for us as it was for him. For certain it taught us to continue recognizing each day as the blessing that it is with every opportunity as a true gift from God. But it also embedded the fact that accepting the help of another is not a weakness but a strength that benefits both parties.
Is there a particular weakness that you struggle with in your life? Have you learned to accept the help and/or direction of others or do you find that you are stuck with the burden unable to ask for help? If what keeps you from accepting help is being an added burden to those who are willing to help, think about the fact that by doing so you are keeping them from receiving a blessing.