"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."John 15:13
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to run with one of our residents (we will call him AP) here at the facility. It was so good to get out and do some running with AP, as he is soon to be completing his time here and he has set a goal for himself to run daily when he is out of the 'system'. He has only recently decided that he wanted to do this, and now cites that he wants replace smoking with running when he gets stressed out and overwhelmed.
Since AP has voiced his goals to me, I want to take these last couple of weeks and prepare him to accomplish them. We started our run just shortly after the rain started to fall (which any of you that know me well, know that I love running in the rain!), the sky was overcast, and our spirits were high.
As we ran out of town we kept a solid pace, and had to walk only three times of about fifteen seconds each. When I pointed out the turn around point of three miles and said I wanted to try to keep from stopping, he doubled up his efforts to keep moving forward. We were successful in that goal, and after showing him how to do a wide turn around that prevents a runner from losing momentum we were on our return leg of the run!
As we began our trek back I encouraged him to push onward without coming to a stop, and took this time we had together to ask about his life. He talked to me about his moving often and about gang life. He told me about the good aspects of being apart of a gang (basically security...people don't mess with you when you belong to a crowd), and about the negative aspects of gang life ("having to rob people at gun point is not fun", "I don't want to kill someone", and "I don't want to end up somewhere worse than here"). He spoke to me about his wanting to be done with it all when he 'got out', and about no matter how much he is ready to move on he still has a tie to 'them' (his fellow gang members), he still has a commitment to them, and basically how they were still his 'safe place'.
After running in silence for a mile or so...well outward silence because I was not truly silent. I was praying through all that silence, praying that I might be used by God to bring this young man to Him...and that even if He chose not to use me to do so, that He would still draw AP to Him through others! After that time in prayer, I told AP that he had to do whatever it took, whatever he needed in the short time he has remaining here at SFAP to sever that 'committment' because it was a false commitment. I told him that his "homies" might kill for his security, and that he might do the same for them, but that they would not die for him nor he for them. I told him that there is only One that we can trust, and that that person is not even our own selves for we are only human too. I told him that the only real security we have is security given by God.
We finished our run without a single stop more, we ran hard, and the rain fell on us through from start to finish. Back at the facility, I gave AP a handshake and told him I was proud of him. Standing at the finish of our run, now soaked by God's beautiful grace, and by his beautiful rain...praying.
Today, I once again find myself praying that same prayer.
I pray that AP and I will have another chance to catch a few miles. I have been praying that the time we spent together and the words shared have been working on his heart and that as he tests them in his mind and heart he finds them to be true (as they are). I have been praying that he might have questions, I have been praying that I can share with him the rest of the story. The story of our great God and not only the security He provides, but also that although others might kill for him, Christ is the only one that has died for him!
Won't you pray for AP too?