I ran a half marathon on Saturday. It was rough. And I barely made it to the finish line. Somewhere between 7 and 8 miles, I looked up and saw runners up above, weaving back and forth on the switch back trail that seemed to stretch right into the sky and I whispered, “Oh. my. goodness.” My brisk walk had slowed to simply trying to get one foot in front of the other, and trying to stay in a straight line. I was increasingly aware of my thirst and weakness, but knew that the next aid station wasn't until the 11 mile mark. And I began to doubt that I could make it.
When I moved off to the side of the trail to let some runners go past me, a woman turned around and asked, “Do you need some water?” I looked up and saw she was carrying her own water bottle. “Are you sure?” I asked. I hated to take someone's precious supply. But she must have noticed that I didn't look very stable. “Yes. Here,” she handed it to me. Then she took a nutrition gel pack out of her pouch and gave that to me. “You need this too. It's going to taste like chocolate icing. Squeeze it all into your mouth at one time. Then take a few more big swigs of water to dilute it.” I did just what she told me. It was really thick and rich and difficult to swallow, but I managed to get it down.
“In 4 to 5 minutes, you're going to feel the lights come back on,” she assured me. Then she looked at my number, “806. I'm going to tell them at the next aid station to be looking out for you. When you get there be sure to drink two cups of water and a cup of Gatorade, OK?” And then she asked, “What's your name?” “Jodie,” I told her. She looked me right in the eyes. “Jodie, you're going to kill this.” Then she and her friend continued up the mountainous climb.
She found me at the finish. I was in the first aid tent, where someone must have directed me because I didn't look all that great. The first aid guys kept coming up to my chair about every two minutes, squatting down to look me right in the eyes, “How are you doing? Tell me what's going on.” Do I really look that bad? I wondered. Then my Good Samaritan appeared. “Jodie! You did it.” “Are you the woman who helped me?” I asked, since I couldn't quite remember what she looked like. “You were my lifesaver.” I told her. “I really couldn't have made it without you.”
She told me her name was Lisa. Maybe she was an angel. She saw me out there struggling and she knew what to do. She gave me what she had and she asked others to watch out for me. Then she came back to find me and make sure I was okay.
Isn't that exactly how Jesus said we're to care for our neighbor?