Hymn in the gym

This morning I dragged myself out of bed. The sun isn’t even fully up, so why should I be?

As I mulled over that pithy logic, I dressed, grabbed my bag, and trudged out the front door.

Now I hope some of you will empathize with my feelings when you hear my purpose. I was on my way to the gym.

But hold on! you might say. Gyming is such a wonderful, refreshing, exciting, thrilling, special time! Well, I wasn’t feeling quite that way on that morning. It had been quite a week, and getting up that bit earlier was eroding my “happy ration” for the day.

Anyway, I got through my workout, and made it to the showers with just enough time before heading home. I was mentally distant, thinking of the day ahead, when I heard someone singing.

I don’t know about other gyms, but generally, no one sings at my gym. If they do, it’s usually between a hum and a breathless squeak. This was real singing, confident and clear. Someone was singing a song that I didn’t recognize, and I heard the word “Jesus.” Then he began a variation of “Thy Word Is a Lamp unto My Feet.”

I was, well, shocked. In a couple of minutes, this guy had both inspired me and put me to shame. He was sharing his faith in a simple, powerful way. As Dwight L. Moody put it, he was “preaching from his Bible bound in shoe leather.”

When he finished singing, he smiled and said, “I hope you have a great day!” Then he picked up his bag and walked out. You’d better believe my day turned upside down and inside out in a great way. I told my fiancée about it when I got home. I told my friends. I told my family. I told just about as many people as I could, and now I’m telling you.

What I took away from this experience is the following:

1) There is always someone near you that you can influence in a positive way. There in the gym, this guy changed my outlook and blessed me through his willingness to honor God. He had no idea what I was going through, and he didn’t have to know. Likewise, we’re each continually meeting, interacting with, and influencing many people. If we can exhibit joy in a weary world and kindness in a “social”—yet socially inept—society, we can change lives too.

2) God knows how to encourage us when we need it most. He timed it so that I would hear that singing just in time. Timing is everything, and God is perfectly on time, every time.

3) Never judge by outward appearance. I think I’ve probably missed out on something great many times in my life because I was too quick to judge.

I’ve read that most people size up and mentally judge a stranger within 30 seconds or less of meeting them. One thing I learned from that is to always strive to be a good example, because others may not allow us a second chance to convince them that our faith is real.

4) Think of the big picture. One song, one kind word, one smile, one good deed, one note, one email, one tip, one pat on the back, one hug, one [fill in the blank] can have a constructive impact far beyond the effort it takes to do it. Those eternal dividends cannot be measured by earthly standards. Let’s be willing to invest more in the long-term results, even, and especially, when we cannot see them yet.1

Let’s be examples of Jesus, and let’s do what we can to show Him at every chance … even early in the morning.

  1. See Matthew 6:19–20.