"Great to see you in the gym early this morning! How is everything going?" I asked
Without hesitation, our friend responded: "The gym saved my life this morning!"
Woah. The statement begged for more context. "Tell me about that," I responded.
Rewind. We first met this friend almost five months ago. He has been faithfully coming to the Life Center at Village Oaks to workout in the gym. Most days he comes twice per day – mornings and evenings. A few weeks ago, this friend inadvertently left his keys on the front desk when he checked in.
I glanced down to see a series of white "NA" key chains. In the Recovery world, key chains are a symbol of sustained change. The tags are earned and they represent proud moments. Moments of making new, healthier choices.
So, I knew the key chains meant something to our friend. I knew they were prized possessions. Prized moments. And, I was excited to encourage his progress on his way out the door.
When our friend walked by, I simply said, "Congratulations on your sobriety! That is really something to be proud of."
He responded, "Oh, its only four and a half months. I am a mess - been in and out of drugs and alcohol all my life. But, thank you."
Fast forward to how we started this story. I came in early, and I saw our friend in the gym. That was not normal, as he typically comes in around 9. We started a conversation, and when I asked him to tell me why the gym saved his life that morning, he proceeded to tell me his back-story and about the night before.
"Well, last night was a struggle. I sat outside my apartment coveting with my eyes. I wanted to get high. I felt like I was getting hit with all my issues at one time."
"You were fighting", I commented. He responded, "Well, it felt like I was failing. But, maybe I was fighting. I'd like to think I was fighting."
He went on, "I smoked so many cigarettes, just trying to get through the moment. I eventually went inside and put on the spiritual TV channel. I watched for hours, trying to make it through. Then, I got on my knees and prayed. I told the Lord I wasn't sure where I was going. I told the Lord I loved Him and I wanted to do the right thing.”
“After that, I got up and started walking. I felt like my body was taking me somewhere I didn’t want to go. I was going to get high.”
“As I walked past the Life Center, I glanced at the door. The lock was off! I couldn’t believe it. So, I opened the door and told the trainer how glad I was to see him. I thanked God. The gym saved my life this morning!”
I’d love to share lots more of this friend’s story, but I will be brief. He has been through a lot – some self-inflicted and some as a victim. Yet, he doesn’t blame anyone. He says his life has come to this: a spiritual battle between knowing the word of God and living the word of God. He wants to live the word of God. He wants God to know that He can trust him.
Our friend is an extremely humble man. He wants you to know about his weakness. To me, he is someone who knows – deep down – what Paul heard Jesus say: My power works best in weakness. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul goes on to say, “I will boast in my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me.” Talking to this friend, it was hard to miss the incredible work God is doing in his life. Why? Because, you can see improvement, you can see intimacy with Jesus, you can see a desire for loving obedience. Yet, our friend tells you how weak he is.
Like our friend, let’s be weak so that the power of Jesus shines through. Jesus wants to work in and through all of us. He rejoices in our ‘key-chain moments’ when we make spiritually healthy choices. And, when we don’t, Jesus grace-fully reminds us who He says we are: sons and daughters of the most Loving Father there ever was.
Thanks to all of you who pray for and give financially to what God is doing through Behind Every Door. You are part of this story.