I'm pretty sure that she was a Christian. We didn't talk much but her actions spoke much louder than her words. Her human nature would have told her to keep on going past us. After all, she probably had worked all day and was desperately in need of a run. She seemed to be very fit, so I would imagine that she really relished her exercise and felt a bit guilty at not continuing. But something selfless in her emerged. Something in her caused her to not do what was likely in her nature, but instead to do something that was supernatural.
The human condition is, at its core, selfish. We want. We need. And we put us first. The supernatural condition is to get past this. It's to move from "me" to "you". And that's exactly what this woman did. The interesting thing is, that my Facebook post prompted a number of responses from my friends, with similar stories. And the protagonists in these stories were either self-described Christians or missionaries.
I'm not saying that only Christians can be selfless. I'm just saying that selflessness isn't really a human trait. And it's interesting to me that in these stories, the common thread appeared to be Christ. Of course, I'll never know for sure. I can't see into anyone's heart. I can only make assumptions, based upon their behaviors, in a circumstantial way.
At the end of my post, I assured my friends that as to this random act of kindness, by a complete stranger, I would "pay it forward." This phrase has gained popularity recently for who knows what reason. But I find it very fitting in these circumstances. Kindness begets kindness. But it also reminds me that the only way anyone could ever deduce what I believe is as a result of the way I act. If I act selfishly, they will conclude one thing. If I act in an unselfish way, it will likely lead to a different conclusion.
Certainly, there are plenty of non-Christians who might have acted the same way as this woman did. But they would have done it for a different reason. Perhaps they would have considered it the "right" thing to do. Or maybe they are simply good people who have high moral standards and try to live their lives the best way that they can.
But I believe this woman acted the way she did because she knew that it was the way that Jesus acted. And she believed that He would have wanted her to act this way. And His Holy Spirit provided the tools to do so. And at that moment, with her having helped me and my children out of an extremely bad spot, I would have done just about anything for that woman. But she didn't really need anything from me. And so, I decided then and there, that I would "pay it forward."
And that's one of the common threads in Christian faith. Jesus acted unselfishly. Even the secular, historical literature acknowledges this. But Christians believe that Jesus took unselfishness to a new level. He died so that we don't have to. He bore the punishment for every sin ever committed. He reconciled humanity with God. He didn't defend Himself. He knew that His death was a necessary part of God's eternal plan for mankind. He allowed Himself to be crucified. He did if for me. And He did it for you.
To a non-Christian, it must all sound so barbaric. God sacrificed His own Son, so that mankind could have the hope of salvation from its sinful condition. But the truth is that it was self-sacrifice. We believe that Jesus was God, in a human form. So, He could have called legions of angels to avoid this horrible death. He could have snapped His fingers and turned His accusers into toads. But He didn't do what His human nature wanted to do. Instead, He allowed it all to happen. The Creator of the Universe allowed His creatures to beat Him, torture Him, humiliate Him and kill Him in a slow, agonizing way.
He did it because He knew that it was the only way, to address the problem of sin that accompanies the free will that He had purposefully built into to his creatures. It makes sense to me. After all, how interesting would it be to create a world of robots that I programmed to do what I wanted them to do. That seems pretty junior league for Someone who created everything. Instead, I think I would create humanity with free will and the power to choose. And I would do it because I would know that ultimately I would arrange for this incredible self-sacrifice. I would know that some of my creatures would respond that that sacrifice, out of free will, and in gratitude. And that response would determine truly who my creatures were.
And we would all pay it forward.