Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.

While out for a walk, Claude heard a voice calling out, “Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.” (No, someone was not watching TV inside a nearby house when a local station flash-backed to the 1980s, replaying the old medical alert commercial. This really happened.) He looked over to see an elderly lady on the ground in a flowerbed. Being the chivalrous man my husband is, he immediately changed course and headed toward the woman.

FREEZE…IMPORTANT FACTS NEEDED. Three and a half weeks ago, while on a training ride for Ironman Florida, at 5:00 AM in the morning, a car struck Claude from behind. Among his injuries, he has a broken left shoulder that rests in a sling, a broken middle right finger in a splint, and bruised/cracked ribs on his right side. He absolutely cannot lift or pull heavy objects for three months with his left side. Any movement in his left shoulder will result in surgery. NOW, PLEASE CONTINUE WITH THE STORY.

Looking at the fallen woman, Claude asks if she is hurt other than being unable to get up. “No,” she says, “Please, just pull me up.” Claude points with his broken right finger at his left shoulder, “I’m sorry. I can’t. But I see a neighbor two houses down, and I will go get him.” Much to Claude’s chagrin, the woman pleaded again, “Please. You can just pull me up.” Really. Claude could NOT pull her up, and it was so hard, and contrary to his nature, for Claude to deny this helpless woman her request, to leave her in the dirt, and go fetch someone who could help.

Able-bodied neighbors did come. The woman is no longer stuck in her flowerbed. Claude has a fun story to tell that has me wondering: how important is it to discern when we lend the helping hand needed – being desperately pleaded for – and when we serve as the fetcher of one who is more able to meet the person’s needs? As truly difficult as it was for Claude not to fulfill this woman’s desire, her genuine need, helping her could have hurt them both.

In the end, Jesus is the real “able-bodied neighbor” we all need, but sometimes, we get the privilege of fetching Him for someone else.