This post is part of my “stories” series. In this series, I share stories of how people live their lives in response to the gospel and as a demonstration of God’s love in order to teach us and to provide an example to provoke us to love and good works. (See “stories: A New Series” for more information about this series.)
A friend of mine told this story recently. When he was working out one morning, he noticed that there was only one other person in the fitness center. The other man was large – “a bear of a man”, as my friend described him. So, I will refer to him as “Bear”.
While my friend was working out, Bear walked by him, very close to him as a matter of fact. My friend caught Bear’s eye as he walked by. Later, Bear walked by my friend again, and again they made eye contact. By now, my friend was wondering what was up. The fitness center was rather large, and there was no need for Bear to walk by so close to my friend.
A third time Bear walked close by my friend and made eye contact. This time, my friend said, “Hello”.
Bear stopped and began talking with my friend. At first, it was just small talk. It turns out that the two worked near one another, even though the fitness center was far away from there.
My friend could tell that something was weighing heavily on Bear, and the big man finally told him. “I hit my wife three years ago. Then, recently, I hit her again. Now my children are afraid of me. They cringe when I come near them. My family doesn’t want anything to do with me. I’ve destroyed my life.”
As Bear talked with an attitude of hopelessness and desperation, he began crying. My friend was amazed at this opportunity that God had given him. He gently shared with Bear about the hope he had in Jesus Christ. My friend did not “sugar coat” things – he did not say that following Christ would cause Bear’s family to accept him or smooth over other problems in his life. However, he did tell Bear that Jesus offered hope in a hopeless situation.
Bear was interested, but uncertain. My friend asked if he could meet with Bear for lunch since they worked near one another. He asked us all to pray for him and for Bear as they plan to build their relationships with one another, and hopefully help Bear seek a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
If you would like for me to include your story in this series, please send me an email at aknox [at] sebts [dot] edu.