The Man Who Fell Face First

2017-10-03 13.41.57.pngI arrived at the Denver International Airport with enough time to casually go through security and make it to my gate with a few minutes to spare before boarding. This is one of the things I love about living in Denver. I can make to the airport with little traffic, it’s convenient. Only problem is this time I met a man who needed my attention, more than that he needed medical attention.

In the bottom parking garage, I walked past a tall middle aged man wearing glasses just inside the entrance to the elevator lobby. As I waited for the next available elevator I looked back to see him picking himself off the floor struggling to grab his two carry-ons. I didn’t see him fall but he must have fallen. I checked my watch. Was there time? The elevator doors opened. I paused. The least I could do was to see what happened and ask if he needed help. The doors closed.

I walked over to introduce myself. While walking over to him he had made some progress exiting the building. He was trying to lean on a safety barrier, instead he did a pirouette and landed on his back.

Rushing over I asked, “are you ok? Are you hurt? Can I give you a hand?” He was calm and said, “yes, please.” I reached out my hand to grab his and began to pull but he was a dead weight. There was no help coming from his end. He was about 6’2 200 + pounds.

“Are you sure you’re ok?”

He mentioned a medical condition and then added, “I’m not drunk.” He said this many times. I’m not sure if I believed him.

He said he just needed a little more help getting up.

I probably should have called airport security. Instead I managed to sit him up on the curb and grabbed him under his arms, clinching my hands around his chest. I deadlifted that guy like a boss. In the middle of my lift we took the time to introduce ourselves. “I’m Jovan by the way.”

After getting him on his feet I told him I would go find someone with a wheelchair. He said he’d be fine and besides his car was just over there. “Over where?” Then he motioned to the cars nearest to us.

I grabbed his bags and he led the way. Big mistake.

We walked past those cars further into the parking garage. He had an exaggerated limp and an unbalanced forward leaning gate.

“Hey man, are you sure your car is here?”  He assured me it was just a little further.

He picked up the pace as if he had to walk faster to keep from tipping all the way forward when right in front of me he did a face plant into the pavement. I saw it coming, like it was happening in slow motion.

It was brutal. He did not attempt to brace himself. Face first, into the pavement.

It took everything for me to roll him on his side. There was a lot of blood. I called 911 and waited for the EMT.

A security guard on a Segway arrived first. I told her what happened. She wasn’t at all interested in my eyewitness account.

As the medical unit arrived I said my goodbyes and placed my card in the man’s briefcase. I sprinted to the gate and just made my flight.

I haven’t seen or heard from him since.

I really wish I would have called for help sooner. I have wondered about what happened to him. I also wonder what it would have been like to have been him lying on the pavement all alone. No one else passed by us in that parking garage. How long might he have laid there? Would he had made it that far if I wouldn’t have helped him up? Would he have still busted his face?

I could talk about the parable of the Good Samaritan and make parallels to my story and the one that Jesus tells but I in no way consider myself the hero. I was reluctant to help and I’m not sure if I was much of one.

It’s like I fell face first in my poor attempt to help him. I can’t even remember the man’s name.

If there is a moral to this it’s that helping people doesn’t always turn out how you might expect. You may not get to see if what you did produced any good. There may not be an immediate sense of satisfaction or fulfillment. You may help someone and not receive a “thank you” in return.

But that’s not why you help. You help because someone else needs it. You help because it is only human.

Jesus fell multiple times when carrying his cross. Each time he got up and made his way to his ultimate sacrifice. He did it for the life of the world. He did it because humanity had need.

Jesus fell face first but got back up for all of us who cannot.

You may not have altruistic motives and be the perfect human like Jesus, but you can still practice being one and help someone in need.

How can you be of help to someone today? How does this make you more human?


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Jovan preaches for the Littleton Church of Christ near Denver, Colorado. Visit here to listen to sermons preached at the Littleton Church. 

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