Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, you his servants; praise the name of the LORD. Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap (Psalm 113:1-7);
His nickname is THUD. It is tattooed on his left bicep.
The person who owns both the nickname and the tattoo put this inky mark on his body as a reminder of where he had been. He had been a big man on his high school campus, and then his life had come crashing down.
THUD is short for the full name Travis Hudson. This is the boy whose last few years have been a roller coaster ride.
T-Hud is a high school track star in my area who has won state titles in the high jump and been ranked nationally. All the success, however , went to his head. He told the Roanoke Times,”I thought I was the biggest thing ever.”
As a result, Travis’s life spiraled downhill. It was something his high school coach Shane Guynn saw coming on, like a train wreck, according to the Times.
In an article, the headline which begins with “Out of the Wilderness…”, Reporter Robert Anderson further says:
Guynn began to notice a dramatic lack of effort in practice from Hudson. His grades were plummeting, continuing a downward spiral that had begun two years earlier.
Hudson argued with coaches, skipped practice and blew off homework.
Worse, he started partying with friends and lying to his parents about his whereabouts.
“Totally just being a little jerk, all the time,” Travis Hudson said. “I was fighting with my parents, fighting with my coaches.
“I would yell at them. I would cuss ’em out. I would say, ‘Screw it, I don’t want to be here.’ Sometimes I would leave.
“My grades were going down the bucket. Of course, I was getting in trouble at school because I would get smart with teachers, ‘Get off my back,’ or whatever.
“I didn’t want to go to practice, so I didn’t. I didn’t want to go to school, so I’d make up an excuse. I would go out and have fun with my friends, go party, shoot pool or go to the river or whatever.
“I thought I knew everything.”
Finally, Hudson was suspended from school for a week for a serious violation of school policy. The suspension turned out to be the beginning of his turnaround.
During his suspension, T-hud faced himself and said,” Is this really happening?”. Then, while he was spending time in a disciplinary program offered by the school system, he noticed when he looked around that he was surrounded by little kids.
Anderson writes Hudson’s thoughts:
“It kind of hit me, ‘Why I am I in this classroom with these kids?’ “
Then the other reality hit home.
Why wasn’t he on the track with his teammates.
In addition to facing himself, what turned Hudson around was the people around him. His track teammates offered forgiveness instead of abuse, and he received mentoring from caring people.
A teacher provided tutoring which Travis told Anderson was a “godsend”. He also received advice from a former successful track star at his school.
The Times article quotes Hudson this way:
“He asked me, ‘Why go out there and throw away what God gave you? Why be mean to the people that are trying to help you succeed? Why would you stay here when you could be getting paid to go to college?”
Thus, the help and love of others helped to bring Travis around. Robert Anderson clearly tells what really changed him.
But mostly, Hudson grew up.
“It kind of hit me the first week of school, ‘I’m a senior. I need to get my head on. I’m not a kid anymore. I need to be a man now.,’ ” Hudson said. “I started doing my homework, training on my own. I stopped hanging with the people I didn’t need to be hanging with. I stopped lying to my parents. I started eating right. I started sleeping well.
“I wanted to be a track star and compete.”
The Bible tells the story of another person who learned from their suspension. I am referring to an episode in the life of King David, told in II Samuel Chapters15-19.
David was King of Israel, but had to flee the capital when his son Absalom engaged in a rebellion against him. David wandered out to the wilderness with his entourage.
While he was out there, the circumstances made David face himself. In his test, David exhibited some humility, took the good advice of his friends and, best of all, looked to the Lord for redemption.
When things turned around for him, he showed a lot of grace to people who probably didn’t deserve it. He forgave, just as God had forgiven him for the abuses which led to his downfall.
While David was out there in the wilderness, he really had no idea if he would ever get his kingdom back, or even continue living. He was in God’s hands, and he knew it.
Perhaps he wrote this Psalm while out there:
How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me .” (Psalm 13:1-6).
When things go bad, the nornal tendency for we humans is to complain. David was unique in that he accepted his medicine, and not only didn’t think ill of his God, but praised Him for His goodness.
This hymn wasn’t written until the 20th century, but I can imagine David marching along humming some version of his own:
“Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it, where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free,
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me!
Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching to all the lost,
By it I have been pardoned, saved to the uttermost;
Chains have been torn asunder, giving me liberty,
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me!
Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching the most defiled,
By its transforming power, making him God’s dear child.
Purchasing peace and heaven for all eternity;
And the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me
REFRAIN: Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
All-sufficient grace for even me;
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
O magnify the precious name of Jesus, praise His name!”
Our circumstances may or may not be redeemed as in the stories of Travis Hudson and David, but regardless, our spirits have. I deserve any environmental hell I may be in today, but my sould doesn”t have to live there. God has redeemed it.