I have my light on

If you read my recent post I got hit by a car! then you already know the story behind the title of this post. But to recap – I was recently hit by a car while riding my bike home. It was a very low speed collision and no one was hurt. My bike had some damage, but nothing major. When it happened it was after sunset and at the moment of impact my first thought was “I have my light on!” I even shouted that fact out as I pulled my bike out from under the bumper of the truck. The driver got out of his vehicle and was very shaken by the impact. I can only image what was going through his mind at the moment he hit me. But the question I find myself asking is what was going through my mind. Let me explain what I meant when I shouted “I have my light on” – I wasn’t in shock, I was upset.

I know it was dark but the street was well lit and my bike had my laptop pannier (saddle bag) that is a bright reflective yellow color on the side as well as the fact that I had the required-by-law headlight on the front handle bars. When I said “I have my light on!” what I was really saying is “How did you not see me! I’m 300lbs of mass heading your way AND I HAVE A LIGHT ON!”

For the next five minutes, the driver and I went back and forth about what happened, whether or not I was ok, and whether or not the bike was ok. I had this guys undivided attention – he was shaken and looked terrified by the whole experience. I had a real opportunity here. Did I take that moment to show the Love of Christ to this upset motorist? Did I use that wide open door to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I shouted “I had my light on!”

I did put my hand on the guy’s shoulder to comfort him as I said I was OK and that it was alright. I did let him leave without assaulting him with verbal obscenities. I did stop him when he reached in his pocket, presumably to offer me cash, to tell him it was OK, and that I wasn’t upset with him, and that he could leave. I didn’t tell him Jesus loved him. I didn’t tell him that God offers peace that passes all understanding. I didn’t show him the Love of Christ.

Maybe this guy was already a Christian. Maybe he has already experienced the love of Christ. Maybe he isn’t on his way to hell. Maybe…

LORD – I pray that you continue to work in me – continue to mold me – continue to change me – continue to position me in front of those who need you – and I pray that you grant me the wisdom and courage to share Your Love when you have placed me in those opportunities.

2 Replies to “I have my light on”

  1. Dale, it makes me glad that you are okay vis-a-vis your bicycle accident. The one mishap that I endured on my bicycle broke my thumb and my pride – half of which I probably deserved. Of course, as a bicyclist and motorcyclist I have a constant concern about the driver/cyclist misunderstanding and am relieved to know that your misunderstanding did you no damage, physically.

    But there is that other issue: How should Dale behave with people who run him over, or with Kelly from the convenience store parking lot, or the hooligan skateboarding would-be beer thieves?

    I sure don’t know, so I won’t tell you how to behave. I will tell you that your realization that there are challenges out there that you sometimes don’t accept reflects well upon your development. I know people who are not even aware when spiritual or ethical challenges present themselves. You notice. You care. And you seem to believe that God has some interest in what you do in those situations. This is all good. And it will get better as time goes by – provided you don’t start denying that the progress that has brought you this far can take you further.

    I am not holding up this slice of my life as an example of what a great fellow I am, but as an example of how the confluence of circumstance, internal strength, and faith in something can lead to action that might make a difference.

    While living in New York City some time ago as a 40ish wear-a-suit-to-work kind of guy, I boarded a subway late one night heading from Manhattan to my apartment in Queens. The train was not full, and even with the homeless man laying across three seats I could take a load off my sidewalk weary feet.

    At the second or third station a group of well-dressed people boarded the train – too many of them to all find seats with our fellow traveller sleeping across three seats. The newcomers filled in all of the empty seats, leaving a couple standing. The party as a whole seemd to be looking daggers at the homeless chap as though his presence in “our subway” caused indescribable hardships for the theatergoing upper crust.

    What was going on here? Here were a bunch of people blessed to enjoy the labor of shoemakers, weavers, tailors, train manufacturers, engineers and maintenance crews – not to mention the farmers, truck drivers and chefs and waitresses by whom they had just been fed – and they acted as though by merely existing this poor brother was purposefully, personally insulting them. I figured something had to be done.

    I stood from my seat, walked across the car to the triplet seat on which the homeless man was sleeping, and gently roused him. When he was awake, I asked him if I could sit with him on the bench. Not surprisingly he nodded that I could, so I took the middle position leaving room for another to sit next to me. Before we got to the next station everyone had a seat – and the very tired homeless man was again asleep.

    What do I hope to have come out of this? A couple of things. First I hope that the homeless man realized that the society of which was becoming less and less a part contained people who still considered him to be among them, that a person among the “haves” was not afraid of touching him gently, of asking him for a favor, of sitting next to him regardless of his current state of affairs.

    I also hope that among the group who appeared injured by this man at least one person has thought from time to time how simple it was for a stranger to do something that changed the dynamic in a public encounter from tension to calm resolution. What I did was not great. It just got the job done.

    It was after this event, and not at all related to it, that people started wearing those “WWJD” bracelets. Upon seeing those bracelets and learning for the first time what they stood for, so to speak, I wondered what Jesus would have done on the subway that night. Clearly I don’t know what he would have done. No doubt had he been present we would have had the opportunity to feel something wonderful, more wonderful than we did feel as that train sped through the darkness that lies under our brightest city. But I did what I could. And I felt better for having done something. Glad to have done something.

    As the years have accelerated, taking me further and further from that moment that still glows for me, other opportunities have opened for me to do something that includes reaching out to put a gentle hand on one of our unfortunate brothers. Not every opportunity I accept. I do what I can and every now and then I do a little more than I think I can. At those moments I call on a faith that what I do is not all that gets done, that there is a power from which I can draw strength and support when necessary.

    Dale, I am sure that you will find opportunities to give the gentle touch of Christian love to someone in need. If you feel the need to share something of the Good News with the people you find at these times you will also find the strength to do that. Please let us know about your progress along this path you have chosen.

    May God bless you as you go.

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