“He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14).
I am always wary of those double left turns at intersections. The driver in one lane does not always remember that another lane is turning also. The potential for a sideswipe is great.
So I was not surprised at what I witnessed at the intersection in Salisbury, Md., one evening a few years ago. I was in the outside lane of the double left waiting for the light to green up. As it did, and we all rounded the corner onto the bridge, I realized that the man up ahead and to my left was about to squeeze out the lady in front of me right into the bridge rail. They collided. Since traffic was heavy, they kept moving over the bridge and onto a side street. I kept on going. I had an appointment and just enough time to get there.
Driving through the next block, I felt the gnawing of guilt pangs. Halfway through one more block I was looking for a way to turn around. I could be a help to the lady who was hit. After all, hadn’t others helped me before?
My mind goes back to 1975 and the blissful time Marcia and I enjoyed with our wedding and honeymoon. The only blemish on that memory was the accident the day after the ceremony. As we arrived in Panama City Beach, Fla., a young driver who was watching girls more than cars and traffic signs plowed his Mustang into the back of our old Plymouth Valiant. As the police arrived, a bystander spoke up and told the officer that he had witnessed the whole incident. His willingness to come forward helped us obtain a fair settlement.
I can recall another man’s story where the stakes were considerably higher. Rev. Don Frensley, a close friend and mentor, came to know Christ out of a rough past. Many a night he would waste away the hours drinking with his buddies in Nashville bars. One evening as he was driving home, a pedestrian suddenly darted out into his path. Don couldn’t stop in time. The next thing he knew, he was looking down at a dead man pinned beneath his car. The man was an African-American, and at the time, racial tensions were running fairly high.
A crowd began to form around Don.
They looked angry.
The arrival of two police officers did nothing to ease Don’s fears. They knew him. They had had several run-ins with him before. On this occasion they naturally assumed the worst.
But actually this time Don had not been drinking or speeding; however, no one seemed to believe him. He felt so helpless. He was about to be arrested for drunk driving and possibly vehicular homicide. And worst of all, there was a dead man under his car. “If that were me,” Don thought, “I’d be in hell now.”
Suddenly an elderly black man stepped forward and spoke to the police, within the hearing of all the others.
“Now don’t go blaming him,” he began. “I saw that fella,” pointing to the accident victim, “run right out from between those cars. This boy couldn’t help hitting him.” The police and the crowd eventually accepted this man’s word.
In the aftermath of that incident, Don gave his life to Christ. And he told me, “That elderly man’s kindness in speaking up for me helped to take away my hatred for black people.”
So it is indeed worth the bother to stop and get involved upon witnessing an accident. I quickly found the two drivers with their dented vehicles. I identified myself as a witness. The man at fault admitted it at first, but soon the process of justification set in. “You know, I feel sure I stayed in my lane on that turn.” Nipping this one in the bud, I told him politely but firmly, “No you didn’t.”
I waited to tell the officer, also.
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’”(Galatians 5:14).