How a Singing Angel In the Gym Reminded Me Where to Find My Treasure

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I am honored to introduce you to my sweet friend Amy Dee Stephens. She always has a smile on her face and warmth in her spirit. And she has the coolest job–she works at the Zoo! She is not only a talented writer and published author, but an amazing person. For over ten years I have attended church and bible study with her and seen her compassionate heart on display. She sent me this charming story and graciously allowed me to share it with you.
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Guest post by Amy Dee Stephens 
I had a “God encounter” Sunday night at the gym.
First off, let me say that I never dreamed I’d be a member at this particular gym, because I always viewed it as a bit too trendy for me.  It’s a place for serious body builders and toned young people–but it’s close to my house and I got a discounted membership through work.
My routine is to go late in the evening, keep my head down, put in my ear buds, and avoid eye contact.  I am an introvert, after all, and frankly it’s embarrassing that every single workout machine I use, I have to move the weigh level from 250 pounds (from the last guy), down to about 30 pounds for me.
So it caught my attention to see a quite elderly gentlemen shuffle in the door, bracing himself with a tall wooden cane.  He hobbled straight toward me and smiled, very friendly-like, so I asked, “Did you make that cane? It looks like one my husband made on a camping trip.”  He said yes, introduced himself, and we had a short conversation. It turns out, he wanted to use my machine when I was done.
Of course, I immediately turned it over to him.  He said, “My legs have been giving me trouble for about two years, but I found out two days ago that I have Parkinson’s disease. I won’t have much longer to live, but maybe I can make it to 92 like my dad did. That’s why I come here six days a week.”
“I hope you make it,” I said with a sympathetic smile. “Is it better knowing or not knowing what you have?”
“Knowing,” he said. “I’ve never seen you here, but I usually come in the mornings. Do you come every Sunday night?”
I told him that I did, but Sunday was always busy with church and family, so I never made it until the evening. We wished each other the best and went about our workouts.
An hour later, I saw him shuffling past me again.  I took off my ear buds and said, “Did you have a good workout?” “I did, Amy, (he remembered my name), but it makes me real tired. You’d think I would sleep better, but I’m up awake a lot a night.”
“Worrying?”
“No, just praying. I don’t have to worry, I know where I’m going.” He smiled so serenely, looking straight at me with clear, watery eyes that elderly people sometimes have.
“My mom used to sing me a song,” he said. “Maybe you know it?”
 And he started singing to me, right there in the gym…
This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.
My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.
I just locked eyes with him and joined in.  Right there in the gym.  By the last line, I was getting teary, so I had to mouth the last sentence to keep from getting choked up–but he just looked straight at me, calm as could be.
“See, I don’t have anything to worry about.  And then the moment was over and we said our goodbyes.
I doubt I’ll ever hear that song again without thinking about that gentleman. Such an incredible reminder, from someone at the end of his life, that we’re “just a passin’ through.” We get so busy and forget about our final destination. That faithfulness will be rewarded with peace. For Christians, the end of life is something to look forward to, not fear.
I think God was present in the gym tonight.
 
Maybe that gentleman needed to tell me his story, but it’s more likely that I needed to hear his story.  God knows me well enough to know that music is the most powerful way to speak to me. So he sent a ninety-year-old singing angel with calm, clear eyes to remind me that, “Up in glory land, we’ll live eternally.”  
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Amy Dee Stephens is a freelance writer of more than 150 magazine articles and award -winning author of “Oklahoma City Zoo: 1902-1959” and “Oklahoma City Zoo: 1960-2013.” She enjoys butterfly gardening and adventure traveling.
Amy Dee Stephens, Freelance Writer
           “Words carry time and culture.”
             amydeestephens@yahoo.com