The One That Was Saved
A narrative of an unnamed Bible Character
Traveling on my own down a road saturated in dust, I pause for a moment to inspect the pass that waits before me. The last thing I wanted was to be out here after dark and if it hadn’t been for my daughter’s illness, I would have waited until morning to make the journey.
I scan the horizon considering the fading light that is numbing the already monotonous colors of the desert and it urges me forward.
Filling my lungs to press down the dread that threatens to turn me back, I take a step forward, pressing my calloused hand on the rock as I lower myself through a steep part of the terrain.
I know well the stories told of this place. Sitting by the fire with friends as a young man I had felt a swelling desire to tempt fate as tales of this route were recounted, but I was too old for that now – now that I had no choice. The walls of rock were red, as though stained with blood. My eyes playing tricks on me in the fading light. The color was convincing.
Wind ripped through the narrow passage, startling me and I stopped again to settle my nerves before moving again. Standing still was never a good option. But my fears held truth and the current carried with it more than air.
A practiced hand brought down on my head pitched me to the ground. Dazed from the knock, I was not able to cover my head against the group of men that had set upon me. I pleaded with God to make it end or steal my consciousness. He chose to do neither. I endured only because I had no choice.
Bleeding and, I was sure, close to death, the robbers loosened my clothes, arguing about who would carry the bloodied bits. In my state, I could have laughed at such a thing, but I could barely breathe. The last to go kicked a plume of dust in my face choking what was left of my breath for a moment.
As the night closed in it was then that consciousness ebbed and flowed. My alert moments were filled with fear, shivering uncontrollably and waiting for the end to come. My mind would erratically drift to my daughter and suck the breath from my lungs before I passed out again. But as morning dawned and the first stream of light began to trickle over the mountain, I wondered at the life that held on within me.
I was barely aware of the world around me until a stride could be heard reverberating across the path. Someone was approaching. I had no strength to open my eyes. If it wasn’t someone to help me than perhaps it would be another thief coming to put an end to my misery.
The footsteps drew near and I waited. I would have held my breath if I could have. I heard a mumble that reminded me of my father’s prayers spoken in the early hours of the morning when I was a child, and faith burst forth from my core. Blood pounded in my ears as my heart found renewed strength. But while the footsteps paused for a moment, it was only a moment more before they moved on and left me alone once again. Lost hope turned my blood cold as I felt it draining from my face, but I soon heard another approach and a voice that echoed against the steep walls uttered something about the law and touching a dead man. My raw throat seared as I tried to call out, but only a muted gargle emerged. I was sure I could hear his clothes scuffing against the rock as he strained to remain as far from me as possible. And I was once again abandoned.
Taking a slow, measured breath, a tear somehow found it’s way between my eye lids, slid across the bridge of my nose before connecting with my other eye. That was all I could release. With what was left of my sanity, I allowed the future of my sick daughter to rise up to heaven as I surrendered my spirit to a God who felt far away.
Even when I heard another coming, I let myself slip back into the unknown recesses of my mind, willing myself to leave the earth once and for all.
Pain shot through my entire body, and if I could have held onto consciousness long enough I’m sure I would have screamed. As it was, no sound came as I now resolved myself to my fate. Finally, the end would come.
But it did not. I recovered enough to identify a familiar smell – a donkey – and I tried to make sense of it. The effort to open my eyes was not enough and a jolt to my body stole my consciousness once again.
I could hear a conversation but was too unaware of myself to discover what was happening. Focusing all my energy on my eyes, I winced as they slowly came apart in small slits. The room began to swim and I shut them again, but not before I spotted two blurry figures standing a small distance from me. I also discovered I was no longer in the pass. I tried my eyes again and spotted one of the men passing a small money sack to the other. Had I escaped death to become a slave? But no man in his right mind would pay for a slave so badly injured.
A hand touched my forehead and my body shook sending pain deep into my head. How had I missed the man approaching? This time I managed to hold onto my senses looking into the eyes of my captor, a wave of nausea building.
“You’re a lucky man,” He said in a cruel tone, but his face held no malice.
“I will settle any accounts when I return, Isaiah” The other man called from the door.
Isaiah grunted and stood, turning to him. “I don’t need your assurances. I owe you too many favors to question you.”
The man at the door smiled and put is hand up to farewell Isaiah, “You owe me nothing. It’s for God that I do what I do.” Then he turned and left.
Isaiah turned his attention back to me, “he may be a Samaritan, but I never knew a man better than him.”
I felt my body grow hot at this revelation – a Samaritan my rescuer. My feelings ranged from horror to contempt and finally to relief. But I could not escape the realization that if the tables had been turned, I would not have bothered. I expect that knowledge alone will take me longer to recover from than my physical injuries.