Several times a year, the Volusia County locals are treated to lots of tourist traffic because of the Daytona speedway. For more than five years, my full-time position with Special Gathering, a ministry within the intellectually disabled community, was in Volusia County. I worked primarily in Daytona and DeLand. These are racing cities. NASCAR rules the city of Daytona because of the income it provides.
Every resident of Daytona understands what it means to drive a marathon. Driving 500 miles at top speeds of 150 to 170 miles per hour is not a sprint. It’s a gut-grueling marathon. Paul tells us that our lives in Christ are to be viewed as a marathon, rather than a sprint.
I was reminded last week of how our life-long marathons should be run. During the time that my husband’s life was being gently pulled from us, our family gathered around the table waiting. Conversations about life and lives wove in and out. Carefully threading the warp and weft of dialogue, we found our family’s lives being woven into the lives of others.
One life was South Carolina’s former Lt. Governor Andre Bauer. Cheryl, my husband’s sister sat with us and started talking about our wedding. Slightly changing the subject, she asked, “What happened to Jill Westbury? She was really kind to me in your wedding. I always wondered what happened to her.”
The Westbury family had been our next-door neighbors most of my childhood. Jill and I were playmates until high school. When Jill married, she began using her first name, Sandrea. She became Sandrea Bauer. Relating what I thought was an interesting twist, I shared, “She and her husband moved to Columbia. And Jill’s son was best friends and college roommates with my neice’s huband.”
“Her son’s name was Andre; and,of course, he became lieutenant governor of South Carolina,” I topped my story with what I thought was an interesting tidbit.
My husband’s family had lived in Columbia for many years; and I knew that Cheryl would be interested in this hometown trivia. My sister-in-law, Cheryl, laughed. “Oh, the story doesn’t stop there,” she chimed into the discussion. “Remember the teenager who mowed my mother’s lawn?” she asked.
Sure, I remembered. An extremely handsome young man had started mowing Mrs. Howard’s yard when he was a young teenager. She was a widow by then and this teen was very kind to her. She was disabled and found it hard to walk. The teenager began running her errands also. He did all her grocery shopping. By the time he was in college, the teen was driving a new sports car; but he continued to pop into her house to make sure that she was all right. Because none of the family lived in Columbia, we were extremely grateful but equally leery of this college student who seemed to have more than a passing interest in Mrs. Howard.
Was he taking her money? The daughters often checked her banking accounts to insure that nothing was wrong. Nope. The teen was paid for the lawn but not the errands he ran two or three times a week. He seemed to be genuinely interested in her well-being. For more than ten years, he took a caring. active interest in my mother-in-law.
Cheryl smiled with satisfaction, pressing both hands against her upper legs to give her statement more emphasis, she reported, “That young man was Andre Bauer. We found out that he did similar errands for all the elderly folks in the neighborhood. By the time, he was in college, he was doing their grocery shopping, without charge.
“Later, as lieutenant governor, Andre’s signature issue was helping the elderly and disabled in the state of South Carolina,” she said. “He took what he learned from the neighbors he served as a teenager and used it to benefit all of the state.”
His is a true Good Samaritan story. This is the kind of marathon life that Christ expects us to live. Andre Bauer has lived his life helping and nurturing others–not for political gain; but as a man who genuinely cares about his neighbors who need his help. Of course, he has made mistakes and verbal blunders but flat tires are expected in a marathon.
Sitting that night with family and friends, everything became a bit of a blur for me. Yet, the marathon race of Andre Bauer’s life is notblurred at all. This is a man who understands the meaning of the marathon. After telling the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus asked the religious leaders, “Who was the good neighbor?” We must answer the woman or man who helped those in need. The one who ran life’s marathon while stopping to reach out and touch those in need.