A few minutes after dawn, a few minutes before sunrise.
Sherlene jerks back from the passenger side window; “That looks like a person laying out there!”
It was a cool morning, much too cool for someone to be sleeping alongside the road.
Several minutes later, I am thirty feet away, and looking at a young Hispanic man, head resting on a muscular arm, legs bent, and laying on his side.
He’s not moving.
I shout, again, nothing.
Once the police arrived and confirmed he was dead, I came closer, and could see the scrapes on his cheek and arms. His pants were down around his knees, and his shoes were missing.
He was big; barrel-chested big, young; mid-twenties (?), with thick forearms tattooed up the inside.
Coming closer still, I could see a large bloody area about three feet off the road. Personal items are scattered around; a cell phone, a folded paper, a credit card.
From the bloody area, and down into the ditch, I could see signs of a great struggle. Scratches in the dirt showed where thick fingers grasped to fight an attacker that was long gone down the road. Large scrapes where elbows gave a mighty push in trying to escape, too late, an unseen enemy. At the end of this gruesome trail he lay, his great struggle over.
The evidence tells us it was a hit and run. What I couldn’t see were the shattered legs. One shoe was still on the road, the other flung thirty feet away. Small bits of broken headlight scattered around. No skid marks though.
As I walked the half mile back to my truck, I will tell you that I prayed. Prayed for what? I have a lot of questions. Who was he? Where was he going? I wonder what he did yesterday. Did he laugh? Cry? What need impelled him to walk the interstate in the middle of the night?
My prayer was that by the grace of God this nameless person might find forgiveness before the Throne of his Creator. I don’t know how. Perhaps he was a Christian, I hope so. If not, I certainly forgive him anything he might have done against me or my society however indirect the transgression.
When Jesus came the first time, He shocked the world with the extent of His grace and forgiveness. My prayer for years has been that He would shock the world with the extent of His grace when He comes the second time.
I grieve for this young man. I found out later that he was walking to family in Barstow CA, a few miles down the road.
But what about his murderer, the person that fled the scene, with a faith so small, and a character so stunted that he could not stop to help, or claim his great mistake?
I pray for him, or her, especially. I hold no grudge. I have made many mistakes in my life that I could not own up to at the time. It’s a tough road to go down, and the eventual pain long term will be much greater than if they had simply pulled over, and taken their lumps.
For the young man, it is over. The chance to do the right thing, or the wrong thing, or anything, is passed. The sum of his life has been totaled, he has walked his last road, and the time for effecting the future is gone.
For the driver? His road goes on. He still has the chance to right his wrongs.
The thing I love about my Lord is that He is indeed the God of last chances. The thief on the cross can tell you that.
This, coupled with the fact that He uses all things for good helps in my faith, my faith that justice will be done, that repentance will occur, and the Lord will claim another soul with His grace and once again shock the world.
It’s a feeble grasp we hold on this life, and we never know when it will end.
It’s a giant struggle, everyday, to do what is right, and we never know what trial is just around the bend in the road.
It’s a thin line, this walk of faith, and we never know where it will lead.
God is love, let love be your guide.