Thoughts from the Road

On the Dangerous Side of I-49

I sped along Interstate 49 on the way to Lafayette. Looking ahead, I changed lanes at the sight of a disabled vehicle on the right shoulder.

A woman stood in the ditch, watching a squatting deputy change the flat on her car. His patrol unit, blue lights flashing, sat ahead on the shoulder.

It was a typical June Louisiana humid day. And I was on I-49, the only road in our state where you can drive 75 miles per hour. The kicker is that no one drives the speed limit. Most add five or ten miles per hour to the posted limit.

I once changed a flat on my truck in this same neck of the woods. I got off the interstate as far as the shoulder and wet roadside allowed. Unluckily, the flat was on the driver’s side. I’ll always remember the swoosh of the wind as speeding 18-wheelers sped by behind me. I was so thankful to get the tire changed and safely off the roadside.

I guess that’s why the deputy changing the woman’s flat caught my eye. He was in the same position I’d been in. I wondered how often he performed this act in the course of a week’s patrol work.

Then, I remembered that term. Protect and Serve.

This Good Samaritan Deputy was doing both. He was protecting and serving.

I wonder if it’s in his job description to change flats for stranded motorists?

Probably not, but it’s a part of protect and serve.

There’s a sidenote to this story: I’m not sure of the race of either of the two characters in my Jericho Road-Samaritan-I-49 story.

Maybe I was going too fast to see if either of them was black, white, or brown.

Maybe it was due to learning to look past the color of someone’s skin and see a helpless need or an act of service.

I’ve watched in despair at videos in the past month of needless brutal acts of violence against helpless citizens. I’ve felt both anger and sadness. Those videos, whether of a dying, choking George Floyd or a running Ahmaud Arbery, have burnt a hole into my consciousness.  I so love our country but am convinced we can, we must, and we will, do better.

However, I have a corresponding balancing video loop of an officer along a Louisiana highway protecting and serving.

If you see him before I do, or catch him doing good, tell him thanks.


With your permission (and reading) I’ll be writing in the coming days about my attempt to look at our nation’s current racial crisis through the prism of the words (and stories) of Jesus.

 His most famous story of the Good Samaritan is always worth a second look. Join me as we dig into the meanings of the Savior’s story about getting past race, our prejudices, and reacting in love.


Jesus speaking in John 10:

. . . The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” …

29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Jesus replied with a story . . .       (New Living Translation)



Curt Iles

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