I had a friend many years ago who could walk into a room and quiet everyone with his domineering ways. The very presence of him: unbelievably large physique, dark complexion, dark clothing and the attitude comparable to that of a Viking, were very good reasons to move aside as he would enter. Everyone, and I mean everyone, felt intimidated within his company. I witnessed some of the largest and toughest men back down from him when confrontation presented itself. We were doing things at that time in our lives which placed us in dangerous environments, so conflict was a fairly normal and regular thing.
The fear of who my friend was resonated within so many. We, being a motley crew of drug-addicted and unpredictable individuals, had others viewing us as an ominous force. Most would move aside, especially when we were accompanied by our intimidating friend.
The thing is, none of us were really that tough. A private conversation one time between my big buddy and I revealed that he was usually scared when things had turned baleful. Within such a dicey lifestyle, full of violence, crude ways and unethical people, life was an uncomfortable ride, and his personal fears were managed with intimidation. He chose to place himself within a lifestyle where fear had ramifying effects on nearly every venture within it.
Why did he do those things? Why did he choose to live that lifestyle? What drove him to live out such a fear-ushered risk? Was it the thrill? Ignorance? A need to be viewed as a tough guy in the eyes of others?
My buddy died a very troubled man. He was only thirty years old. He had moved on from a life of gambling, drug pushing and drinking with the crowd. He stopped putting himself out in the late night streets where the shadows hid the immoral acts. He became reclusive. He stopped interacting with most. He began to lock himself away within his home with handfuls of muscle relaxers and opiates, large amounts of hard alcohol and the steady consumption of pot. He pushed everyone away. Self-loathing became his daily routine. He was almost unrecognizable when I last saw him.
He was found face down in his kitchen, no longer living a life of fear. He had finally left his place of suffering.
I know why I had chosen to live alongside my friend. It was a combination of my poor self-esteem, a longing to be preoccupied with something that would numb me from my perilous personal life at home, a lack of seeing my own worth and a good supply of the drugs I had to have in order to survive. I had no other way of exploring other possibilities and opportunities because of the unhealthy codependency within my little clique. A little group that had a fearless leader at its center. We could deem ourselves capable of the impossible because of our larger than life patriarch. We were much cooler than others, in our own eyes. We were getting away with more and more, dodging the law unscathed.
I want to believe that the Lord played His part within the last days of my friend’s life here. He truly seemed to have a passionate love for Jesus. I had the opportunity to talk with my friend in some of the last months of his life. You see, his sister and I were engaged for many years. It was not until he began spending more time at our home did he start speaking more of God. He was actually one of the few people who really had me questioning my beliefs about God before I had this desire to seek out His truths. I’d like to believe that Jesus was alive in my buddy throughout those last days of his self-destruction. I like to believe that my friend’s obvious broken ways were understood by our Lord. I like to believe that the fear that my friend had lived in, and lived out, was comforted and excused within the arms of Jesus.
God knew before my friend existed within this physical life what steps would be taken throughout it. What would condition my friend to become a man of intimidation, wrapped in personal fear. He knew why he would begin to seclude himself from the outside world. He knew why his life would end there on a cold kitchen floor. He knew my friend’s free-will choices throughout all of his thirty years. He, the Lord, died for my friend who was dying inside. I like to believe that my friend is now eternally free of the fear he had lived within, within his personal sinful world, now long gone. I sit and wonder sometimes if the fear of the Lord had resonated within him as he spent those last hours alone. Did he fear the Lord when ruminating on all of those mistakes he had made? Did he know within his heart that the Lord is merciful and had already paid the price for all of those sins?
We have choices to make. We have a Lord to guide us through our own prideful lordship. We must choose to see though the eyes of Christ within, or face the consequence of being veiled with the excessively high opinion of ourselves.