What was that? Wiping the sleep from my eyes; the clock reflected 3:10 am.
Honk – Honk
Peering out my bedroom window, there not ten feet away on my front lawn was Jerry honking his horn. I flew out of bed, threw on my jeans and hurried out to see what could be the trouble.
Jerry was my next door neighbor and also paralyzed. He was a big man over 300lbs and normally very self-sufficient but when he was in trouble he depended on me.
Hurrying up to his car “What’s wrong Jerry?”
“I need your help – I stopped to help a lady who broke down on the freeway and she has a flat tire; you can come change it!”
I am still to this day a pretty selfish individual, you can scoff, but I have improved. Therefore, maybe you can imagine the feelings accompanying my grumble, “Jerry, its 3:00 in the morning… why are you stopping to help someone in the first place? You shouldn’t be doing that?” Giving Jerry a lecture on not helping was motivated not so much by my concern for Jerry’s well being – I just wanted to go back to bed.
“God told me too help her. Can we go? The lady is waiting. You were only sleeping.”
Hmmm…is that what I was doing? “Let me get my shoes,” – what could I do? - his car was sitting on my front lawn with his head lights on, it wasn’t like he was going to go away.
Jerry was always doing this, stopping and helping people. He used to tell me that God talked to him and God would often tell him to slow down because around the next corner someone would need his help. And, sure enough inevitably there was someone who had run out of gas or had some other need. Jerry always kept a couple of gallons of gas in his trunk just so he was prepared when God sent him on an errand. Sometimes it took a bit of convincing the person in need it was safe to approach his car, take his car keys and get the gasoline out of his trunk. Even today I am baffled by the whole scenario.
Well, I loaded my jack, a few tools and followed him down in my truck. Some might wonder why I drove – I could have ridden with Jerry I guess but under the guise of needing my own tools I avoided being stuck with him in his car. Jerry at times didn’t smell too good. More than once I came to help him because his catheter had leaked urine all over his pant leg and carpet. I know, I know – I ‘m not all that proud about those feelings and motives either, but it’s just the truth.
There it was just as he described an older Oldsmobile – a massive boat of a car and the rear tire on the passenger side flat as you please. I was beginning to wake up now and my mood had improved considerably. While I changed the tire – I am pretty sure Jerry was telling the lady about Jesus.
Over the years I listened to many stories of Jerry helping people stranded alongside the freeway.
About fifteen years ago I went by to visit Jerry. I had move 5 years earlier and I wondered how he was doing. A lady answered the door. She told me Jerry had died. As we talked it came clear she was one of those Jerry had helped. She had come to stay with him when she needed a place to stay. In his passing Jerry had willed his house to her.
The lesson - Maybe it is this: We can help someone even though others are more capable. All the cars that streaked past those stranded could of stopped and helped but it was a man in a wheel chair who stopped. Lesson #2 - Maybe to help, our schedules need to be a bit less important.