People rarely ask me...okay, they never ask me about my bulging biceps or ripped abs, but if they did. I would say, yes, I go to the gym about 3-4 times a week...when I'm on a normal schedule. But then again, I am a student pastor, there is no normal schedule.
I love going to the gym. While living in Las Vegas (pre Children) Theresa and I could have been classified as being gym rats. We loved it. We had the time. Now, time...well we still have the same amount of time, but many other priorities have risen and are being raised (a.k.a. Fisher and Ian). I like to see the gym as 'my time'. A chance to think, listen to a podcast while spinning the RPM's away, or just escape from stresses of life and pound it out. I find it a very healthy environment for me.
Today, after stepping out of the shower and getting dressed an elderly man walked in to wash his hands. I had seen him many times and we've exchanged pleasantries but that's about it. He reminds me of my grandpa, 'cept a little younger...this gentleman is prolly 82. Close to 45 years my senior and he is still hitting the gym, regularly.
'Good morning sir", 'good morning' he returned. I continue the conversation with a general, 'how are you doing today?' His answer stopped me mid dress, I stopped, sat down on one of the sinks and gave him my full attention, "I lost my wife last week and it hurts," he said trying to hold back a tear from his left eye, 'but I know she is in a better place and not in pain." Dumbfounded at his painful and brutal honesty, I did not know what to say. My heart sank, no where near the depths of his, but nonetheless, I felt his pain. As our conversation continued I discovered that they had been married 62 years...a life time ago (1951). He mentioned the "three fine boys" he had raised, a fact he seemed most proud of seeing how he mentioned them twice in our time together. I told him that on Friday, I will have been married 15 years with two fine boys, to which he replied, "you'll make it, you'll be good." Continuing our meeting he began telling me where one of his sons lived locally with their family and where he lived. Then it hit me. I know about this man, I know one of his sons, I know his granddaughter, I even was able to visit his wife while she was in the hospital.
Not wanting to turn the conversation to become too light hearted, we continued talking without me informing him on how I had just played mental connect the dots. After our time had wrapped up, He left just as calmly as he had arrived and went to his truck. All I could do is say a prayer for his peace and comfort from the Spirit of God. Having let him share his heart with a complete stranger.
This chance meeting was a strong reminder to me how all of us need to slow down and engage people. We never know how we will be of encouragement being the voice of hope to someone in need, being just a person that will listen, or even be the one who walks away encouraged.
My prayer is that all of us are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our day to day, that we love others -the way He has loved us, and we step out in boldness; breaking out of our comfort zones. We never know who needs a friend. I look forward to many more conversations with Mr. Wilson.
Christ Follower, Husband, Father, Student Pastor, and Lover of all things Garlic and Bacon.