A short story of how I was inspired this week
The hardest part about college vacation breaks that I still have to remain in college track and field shape while my teammates and I are left on our own to workout. We are left without a facility to run in and without the accountability of having to show up for a scheduled practice.
It’s essentially the urban sports version of Man Verses Wild. Go out and find an open space to run at.
Thankfully, I’m not COMPLETELY on my own. I have a coach that at minimum gives his athletes loose instruction as to what to do on our time off so that we do not become too out of shape.
Anyway, today I decided to. Our coach asked us to hit the road and run a couple of miles. I hate running, and to be honest, I hate track too. However, I believe firmly that since I committed to be a member of my university’s track team, it is my duty to fulfill my obligation and give it my best effort (unless it’s a vacation break).
Even though you may consistently do what you are told, and out work everyone you are surrounded by, it is no guarantee for success.
It’s important to note that sports come with a high risk. Even though you may consistently do what you are told, and out work everyone you are surrounded by, it is no guarantee for success. One injury could potentially dash your goals right before your eyes, or one competitor could step up and steal your moment. All that you can ask for is consistent effort and that you show up and get the prescribed work done.
Like I said, I do… most of the time.
I started my run and had a goal time of running for 25 minutes, which would equal a little over 3 miles. Not too short, but not too long. I struggled to decide if I wanted to stay on campus or branch out into the surrounding area around campus. A voice within me was prompting me to try something new, so off I went into the community.
About halfway through my run I noticed a small window-front shop in the surrounding neighborhood that was branded with the words “COMPASSION CENTER” in big blue lettering. I made a mental note that I would stop by on my way back to my apartment after my run had concluded. I had passed this road a countless amount of times and for some reason my awareness had never stretched across the street to notice the structure.
As promised to myself, on my way back around I went back to the Compassion Center. As I reached my hand out to open the door, a harsh voice behind me shouted, “We’re closed! Come back tomorrow if you need anything.”
I was startled and replied, “Oh I don’t need anything, I was just trying to learn more about what you all do.”
All of the sudden her whole demeanor changed. She walked up the door and knocked. A man came out they whispered under their breath and the man look at me and waved me in.
“Sir, you don’t have any weapons on you?”
“Of course not,” I replied. My mind was stuck in my own reality that people do not just carry around weapons to hurt the innocent. I mean think about it. How often do we enter an establishment that has NO WEAPONS signage posted? Is it necessary in most communities? I have been led to be believe not.
“You never know what you’re going to get around here.”
I walked through the door of what appeared to me as essentially a mom and pop restaurant without a cash register. We went on to have a small discussion and I left my contact information, but before I left another gentleman came out of the side room.
Let’s call him Rick for privacy purposes. My first reaction was to be alarmed by his rough features and rugged look. Little did I know how much I would learn from Rick.
He introduced himself and then asked for my name. After repeating myself about 6 times I settled with him thinking my name was, “Amo.” I truly believe that was about as close as we were going to get with the pronunciation.
Rick turned to what seemed to be his boss and asked if he could leave. He had been there all day and he needed to go see his family member in the nursing home. He had to get on his way soon so he could walk to the nursing home, then back to his home before the sun went down.
“I have to get back before the sun goes down because I do not want to be jumped.”
Rick was dismissed, as was I, and we happened to be walking in the same direction. He was showering me with questions.
Who was I?
Where was I from?
Why did I stop by?
Before I could answer any of his questions he had mentioned that he was so relieved I was willing to volunteer my time because they work him to death and the work is too time consuming for him to always be doing for free. He exclaimed that he needed money to take care of his family, and the center was not able to provide in that manner.
I was so confused because I had not mentioned anything about giving my time to help out at the center. To him, my curiosity of the center had been transformed into signing a national letter of intent to serve as well.
He went on to say that he walks everywhere because he sold his Jeep. His family members were strung out on drugs and they would steal his Jeep while he was asleep so that they could retrieve their drugs and get their fix. As a solution, he vowed to walk and completely rid himself of the stress that came with him owning a vehicle. Unfortunately, he also had to give up his job due to the fact that he no longer had a way to work he could afford.
His love for Jesus and love for helping others was so strong and radiated through his topics of choice. Rick had been volunteering every day for the past ten years. For free. No reimbursement of any type. He believed it was his duty to be a light for those who are struggling.
“Do you know how to fight?”
Then, as we walked a little further down the street off into the distant conflict arose. Two men got into a scuffle, a younger man reached back and struck the older man in the nose drawing a fountain of blood. Before I had a chance to react, Rick dropped his bag, broke out into a full sprint and broke up the fight. He pulled the two men apart and reprimanded them.
“We are brothers! We have to stick together! Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Here, take one of these.” He reached into his bag and gave each of the men one of his fruit smoothie drinks, and we went on our own way. He laughed under his breath, looked at me and said,
“Do you know how to fight?”
My heart immediately dropped and I almost reached fight or flight mode thinking that I was next in line to be beat down.
“Uhm, I’m not sure,” I replied.
“Well if you’re going to walk around here with no weapons, you had better learn to fight, because these guys will jump you when you least expect it. Heck! That young guy back there is known for trouble. Watch out for him. He has jumped me for my money or my clothes so many times! I think he let me off easy because I had a black man with me!”
I didn’t know whether to be humbled that he had such a giving heart or some what flattered that he even considered me to look intimidating. Or that I appeared to be black. Usually it’s something else.
First time for everything, I suppose.
I wish the story of his faithfulness would end there. As we walked up about another mile up the street he noticed a man with a whole in his shirt.
“Hey! Do you need something a little bit warmer? I gotcha!”
In my head I was thinking he packed an extra shirt. He unzipped his jacket, and handed it to the man.”
I could not believe what I was witnessing. I’ve heard the expression of giving a man the shirt off your back as a metaphor to giving someone everything you can, but never in my life did I think I would actually see it happen. I had to ask;
“Why are you so giving?”
”Well, Amo. It’s what God put me on this earth for. After my house burned down and I lost everything, God really spoke to me during that time. I still never got another house, and right now I’m sleeping on my buddy’s couch, but I get my meal each day from the Compassion Center, and I am able to worship the Lord every Sunday.
What more do I need? I mean hell, yeah I question myself often, but I stick to the promise that one day the Lord will reward me for staying faithful to him and his creed.”
Just as a track athlete commits to staying faithful to their training regimen knowing that an injury could ruin it all, or how one stays faithful to showing up to work every day to provide for their family and build a foundation of security. Rick has stayed faithful to his belief in the heavenly father. He lives knowing that he may lose his home, lose his clothes, lose his meals, but he will never fear the unknown, for he believes in the word of God.
Consistency matters. Consistency, or lack thereof, can be the defining factor between failure or success. That is why it is so important that we remain faithful. Even when it seems impossible, as if you could not give anymore, challenge yourself remain committed.
It takes dedication, and we are to lead as the son of God did. By example;
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and with you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2
Today I was humbled. That man is powerful beyond measures, for he is faithful.
How do you remain faithful? What does consistency mean to you, and how do you practice it in your daily life?