If you are like me, you have never heard of Josh Ripley. That is, until last week. Josh is a junior varsity runner for Andover High in Andover, Minnesota. While running in the first mile of a two-mile race, Josh heard a loud scream. Most of the other runners paid little attention to Mark Paulauskas, a runner for Lakeville South, who was lying on the ground and obviously in intense pain.
Josh was the only runner who decided to give Mark his attention. When Josh saw Mark holding a bloodied ankle, he had a decision to make. He could have simply turned away and kept running. He could have called for help. But I doubt that anyone watching the race could have expected what happened next. Josh carried Mark a half mile back to his coaches and family members! Mark’s ankle had been “spiked” by another runner’s shoe. His injury required twenty stitches and a walking boot to protect the wound.
This story would be amazing enough were it not for what happened next. After leaving Mark with his coaches Josh went on to finish the race. Afterward he was quoted as saying, “I didn’t think about my race. I knew I needed to stop and help him. It was something I would expect my other teammates to do. I’m nothing special; I was just in the right place at the right time.”
When I mentioned this to my son Harley, he said, “No one’s even talking about the guy that won the race.” So true! But everyone is talking about Josh Ripley!
I could not read about Josh Ripley without thinking of another person who stopped to help someone in need. In Luke 10:30-37, Jesus taught what we commonly refer to as the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. He was robbed by thieves, stripped of his clothing, and left wounded and half-dead. A priest raveling the same road saw him but passed by on the other side and went on his way. A Levite also came and, when he saw the wounded man, also passed by on the other side and went his way. But a certain Samaritan who was traveling on the road saw the wounded man and had compassion on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds. He brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next morning he paid the innkeeper, saying, “Take care of him. Whatever thou spendest more, when I come again I will repay thee.”
The scriptures are full of admonitions to stop and take the time to help some other person. “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:31-46 (King James Version). “Let love be without dissimulation…..” (Romans 12:9). “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:1-2). “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him” (I John 3:17).
Think about Josh’s statement, “I was just in the right place at the right time.” The next time you are in the right place at the right time, think of Josh Ripley. Think of the Good Samaritan. Take the time to stop and help someone. It might involve stopping to help someone who is physically injured. It may involve spending time with someone who is hurting in other ways and needs someone who will listen. It may involve something as simple as helping someone carry their bags; opening a door for them; or speaking a kind or encouraging word. The important thing is, take the time to help!