Well, what did you expect?

Love your enemies, do good to them,
and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.
Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High,
because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

Luke 6:35

Larry was a junkie. I think he had more toxic chemicals in his veins than blood. I found him lying in the bushes barely breathing, his eyes half-open, pupils like pinpoints. Foamy saliva dripped from the corner of his mouth. Track marks scarred both arms. I knelt beside him, pulled a dirty syringe from his arm, and then opened my med box to prepare a syringe of my own.

“What else do you want?” my partner, Warren, asked me.

“We need an IV.”

“You know he’s just gonna rip it out, don’t you?”

I glanced at Larry’s face and remembered the last time we’d seen him. The way he’d cussed us out. Treated us with disdain. But then I remembered the scripture…love your enemies. Be kind to others even when you don’t expect to receive anything in return.

“Probably,” I said, “but let’s do it anyway, Warren. Okay?”

“Suit yourself.”

Warren shrugged and snatched a 500-cc IV bag from the med box. I wrapped a tourniquet around Larry’s arm, thumped up a fat vein, and then jabbed an IV catheter deep into the vessel. The flash chamber filled with blood. I threaded the catheter and attached the IV tubing. Warren set the flow rate to keep the vein open.

Next I selected a small plastic vial and stuck a 3-cc syringe into the round rubbery top. I turned the bottle over, pulled back on the plunger and withdrew two milliliters of clear fluid. After tapping the syringe to clear it of excess air bubbles I attached it to the IV line and pushed the drug into Larry’s vein.

Mere seconds passed before his eyes began to flutter. His respirations quickened. He slurped a couple of times as if sucking the remains of a milkshake from a straw and then took a deep breath and sat up. He looked sluggish at first, blurry and unseeing as if covered by a thick haze, but then his constricted pupils dilated and his mental status sharpened to a fine point.

“Hey,” I said. “Welcome back.”

“What happened?”

“You OD’d again,” Warren said. “You almost stopped breathing this time, Larry.”

I offered Larry my hand to help him up. He slapped it away. “You took away my high, man!” He ripped the IV out of his arm and gave me the finger. Then he stormed off, bleeding from the punctured vein and shouting obscenities at us as he stumbled down the street. I felt stunned. I glanced at my partner.

“Did you see that?”

“Well, what’d you expect?” Warren said. “A thank you note?”

Later I thought about what had happened, about my own highs and lows, and about the many times I’ve slapped God’s hand away when He was trying to help me up. Am I any different than Larry? Are you? You know we all crave the high of lustful living, but in the end that path leads to addiction and death. Christ came to save us from ourselves, to turn us away from the sin that entangles us.

So the next time you feel convicted by the helpful words of a friend, don’t turn them away. Christ may have sent them to lend you a helping hand.

Your Turn

Join the conversation by adding your comments below!

How do you respond to those who spurn your help?

by Pat Patterson

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I am a paramedic, an educator, a family man, and an adventurer. I love life, and live to go fast. I used to race motorcycles, now I ride a mountain bike. I have sailed since I was nine, taken a million pictures, studied many topics, and bandaged a lot of people. I write about what I know. So if my stories are gritty, a little fast, colorful and full of adventure, it’s because I’ve been there, on the water, in the woods, and on the street, with dying people in my arms, and that has left a deep impression on my heart.

About Be the Light Editor

Martin Wiles is a minister, author, freelance editor, and English teacher who lives in Greenwood, SC. He is the founder of Love Lines from God and is the author of Grits & Grace and God and Grits, Gumbo and Going to Church. He serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions (www.christiandevotions.us) and Assistant Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He and his wife are parents of two and grandparents of three.


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