Parable in the Parking Lot

Terry Lieb Challenging Yourself, God Finds, Living out your Faith 5 Comments

When I pulled into the grocery store, I was expecting to get some vegetables, not step into a Bible story come to life. The Bi-Lo certainly didn’t give me any hints. It was a little run down and the rickety carts in the parking lot looked like they might have been around in Moses’ day, but nothing out of the ordinary.

On my way to the entrance to the store, a very thin senior black man with a weathered face and a full head of snow white hair coached a vintage mobility cart up a slight incline to his car. At first glance it appeared his buggy had given up but upon a closer look I saw that it actually was still moving—at a snail’s pace. I asked the gentleman if he needed a push.

“No thanks,” he said cheerfully. “This old buggy and I move at about the same speed; she’ll make it.” With a good-natured grin, he added, “But you may want to check on my misses coming on behind; her buggy has a much bigger load to haul up that hill.”

I glanced at the exit to see his misses just exiting the store with her mobility cart full of groceries. Sure enough, Misses was a much more substantial person than the mister and her sunny expression suggested a personality equally as big. As she headed toward the car, her aging cart took one look at the incline and stopped dead right in the middle of the road.

We were quite a ways away and I was able to witness the entire scene that unfolded next. Several folks on their way in and out of the store shot the stranded woman a sideways glance, but just passed by as if they didn’t see her. Whether too busy, too embarrassed, or simply indoctrinated with our culture’s “don’t get involved” mentality, not one offered to help. A car stopped, unable to get around. The driver just sat inside and waited, whether patiently or impatiently it was impossible to tell.

Then a teenager with a variety of tattoos came rushing over. The tall, white Jack Sprat was about as different looking from the woman as it was possible to be. “Can I give you a push?” he asked.

“If you’re up for it!” she replied.

The young man got behind the cart and pushed. It didn’t move an inch. He tried again but the old cart stubbornly stood its ground. Undeterred, the young man then offered to carry the woman’s groceries to the car. Looking a bit embarrassed at that point, she accepted his offer.

As he grabbed some of the bags suddenly another customer—a young woman—hesitantly stepped forward to help. I can’t say for sure, but her shy demeanor made me think she wouldn’t have approached the woman on her own if she hadn’t seen the young man do so first.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

By this point, I had arrived at the scene as well, and the three of us transported the groceries to the well-used older car while the woman slowly followed behind under her own steam. When we were done loading the car, the gentleman said, “This is still a good place to live with plenty of good folks like you all.” Misses thanked us as well and asked if I would take care of “that old cart” for her.  But when I turned to do so, the young man was already returning it to the store.

I later spied him in the produce section with a couple who I assumed were his parents. I approached them and told him how impressed I was with his sensitivity and immediate response to those folks outside. He—and his parents—seemed a bit taken back but then he smiled and said modestly, “Just doing what we need to do for one another,” as if it was no big deal.

It may have been a small deed to him, but to the woman, her husband, the passerby inspired to perform her own act of service, and myself, I think it was a very big deal indeed.


Questions for Deepening Your Faith Journey

1. Can you remember a similar situation that you have experienced? What character were you in the scenario: the person in need, the person who responded, or possibly one of the folks who walked by on the other side?

2. If you were the person who responded to the one in need, what enabled you to step forward when others didn’t?

3. If you were the person in need of assistance, were you able to accept help without feeling diminished? Are you able to ask for help when you need it? If not, why?

4. If you were the person who walked by on the other side, do you understand why you chose not to offer assistance? How did you feel about your decision at the time? Now reflecting back on it, how do you feel about your decision? How might you do things differently in the future?

5. One person’s courage often inspires others who are more reticent to act on their own generous impulses, kicking off a positive ripple effect. Have you ever witnessed the impact on observers when one person steps forward as this young man did? Does this knowledge give you extra incentive to be the first to step up?

6. How does this story connect with the parable of the Good Samaritan? (Luke 10: 25-37)




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Ron Wildasin
Ron Wildasin
July 23, 2019 1:53 pm

I have experienced being the person who responded as well as the one who walked right by on the other side. As I get older I am now more likely to help as I can, likely because empathy comes closer to my heart than when everything was such a rush in my life. Reminders like your story help us focus on opportunities in everyday life that can bring a smile to someone’s face and to teach others by example.

Terry Lieb
Terry Lieb
July 23, 2019 11:56 pm
Reply to  Ron Wildasin

Thanks Ron for your feedback and your continued interest in my writing.
Trust you are doing well.

Nancy Robertson
Nancy Robertson
July 23, 2019 1:55 pm

Brought tears to my eyes. You are a great storyteller, Terry! And you get us thinking. 🙂

July 23, 2019 10:42 pm

Thank you Terry for sharing your observation and for making this an exercise as well :). Just when I start to get jaded by this cold, indifferent world, along comes this breath of fresh air. This hope that, no, not all is lost, there is still an awfully lot of good out there…we just usually are too busy to notice. These moments I call God winks. You’re in this situation and you just do what is right and there’s God winking at you. Set, game, match.,,, at least for the moment. Unfortunately I’ve been too busy and get convicted when… Read more »

Bill Yellets
Bill Yellets
July 29, 2019 11:48 pm


This is a great story and a good reminder to all of us. Too often, I have been the one to not get involved and most often guilt results but is quickly dampened by focusing on my agenda. When I have done the right thing, often I receive more of a blessing than the one in need. Intentional acts of kindness to the needy, as unto the Lord and not wanting or expecting any gratitude in return feels the best.