A couple of years ago, I was driving on a busy four-lane highway to my church. This is a road where no one slows down for anything. People pass and bounce from lane to lane without the benefit of blinkers or common sense. There are many traffic lights, and I  have come to believe that there is a prize for running the yellow light, even if it means being in the intersection after the light turns red.

As I made my way to church, suddenly the tail lights on the cars ahead of me turned red as cars in both lanes came to a  sudden stop. I didn’t see anything ahead. In a few moments, I saw what looked like the front of a broken shopping cart coming across the line of cars. I watched closely and soon realized it was a broken walker with a very old man pushing it across the highway. He walked so slowly that I was not sure how he got into the road at all since traffic is usually constant. He had only one good arm; the other seemed to be at an angle as if he had an injury or perhaps the remnants of a stroke. He walked with a bit of a limp, as well. The walker had front wheels, but there were no wheels on the back. He made it past the cars and reached the safety of the grass median. However, the grassy area seemed to make it harder for him to push and maneuver.

I worked in the field of human services, and I heard stories of broken lives every day.My heart ached as a watched his broken body push the feeble walker. There was no expression in his eyes or face. It appeared that his spirit was broken as badly as his body. As the cars began to move,  I had a battle raging in my head. I wanted more than anything to pull my car into the grass and see if I could help him. The logical side of my brain wondered how in the world I could help. What if he was violent? What if he was mentally ill and didn’t understand my gesture or offer of help? What if he was ill and I was exposed? Would I offer him a ride? What would I say?

I pulled into a parking lot for a moment to think. I fought tears as I wondered if this man had family or food or a place to stay. I certainly had nothing I could offer him. My finances were already limited without trying to help someone else. Maybe I could go back and just say a kind word to him. The logical side of my mind asked what good that would do. Sure, go and say, “Hi, I saw you struggling to get across the road. I don’t have any way to help you but just wanted to say Howdy!”

In the end, I didn’t turn around. I don’t know why this man touched me the way he did. I did say a prayer for him. I believe in the power of prayer.  There have been times I felt so very broken and prayed for someone to reach out to me. I am so grateful that people took time to pray for me, talk to me, and help me. I don’t know the life journey of the man I saw. I don’t know if he had friends or family or anyone to help him in his brokenness. All I did for him that day was pray. It wasn’t enough.

Matthew West’s song “Do Something” encourages us to take the time to do something for others:

I Said, “God, why don’t You do something?” He said, “I did, yeah, I created you” 


7 responses

  1. Prayer is always enough. I have been in that position before and it is so hard in that nano-second to make a quick decision. But prayers go where we fail to, sometimes. And I will join you in prayer for this man. Thanks for sharing your story.


  2. Beautifully written. We all have moments in life (well I hope we all do!) where we battle with the “Do I? Don’t I?”, dilemma of involving ourselves in the lives of others. I pray not only for the people I come in contact with, but that the Lord guide me in His will. If you are meant to speak with the gentleman, surely the good Lord will have him cross your path again.


  3. I’ve been in that same position many times. It’s a tough call to know what’s best. I do believe prayer is the most powerful thing we can do, though…I often forget that.


  4. What a powerful post! I think it was so strong of you to share this and so many of us have had those moments where we wonder if we should turn around. I think just saying a prayer for him shows the kind of person you are. 🙂


  5. there is so much in this that I identify with. I can feel the challenge you faced as I read, having been there so many times. the war in my mind over what is right to do, over what I can do, over whether it would be appreciated or not…

    thank you for the vulnerability, for the courage to not come to a conclusion but to continue to face the questions.


  6. It’s enough, Cathy. It’s the best of what you could offer. Powerful writing–I could see that man inching his way across the road.


  7. Prayer is the very best thing. Thank you for sharing this. So often I pass stranded motorists and others walking along the interstate during my commute and I often feel I should do more than offer up a prayer or call the local police to check on them. But as a woman driving alone, I don’t feel comfortable stopping. But that doesn’t make me feel better. I will say a prayer for this man today.


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