Call Me Larry

7 03 2021

This last week I received word that an old workout partner of mine passed away. I hadn’t seen him since the 80s when both of us had joined a local gym and were learning routines for weightlifting. As anyone who has pumped iron will tell you, you get better results having a workout partner than going on your own. Larry, as he told me to call him, wasn’t a very big man, but he was in pretty good shape and asked me one day if I would spot him on the bench press, and then in turn he did it for me. Since we were both doing the same workout routine, we stayed together the rest of the way, spotting and encouraging one another. For the next year whenever we were at the gym together, we’d pair up and push each other. I could tell Larry was a bit older than me but that didn’t slow him down in the least; he’d hit every rep hard and advanced in weight levels rather quickly. And I liked Larry because he was always cheerful and encouraging; never came to the gym in a bad mood. Everyone liked him and I learned if I wanted to pair up with him, I needed to get to the gym early or someone else would grab him up. Larry never talked about himself much; I knew he was a teacher, happily married with two sons I believe. One thing I liked about him was that he was a seasoned Christian, much stronger in the faith than I was at that point in history. It was not merely in his words, but his attitude that I could tell he was a believer, and a strong and happy one at that. Over the course of the next few months Larry helped me grow physically strong, but more mature in my position in Christ.

The day came when my hours at worked changed, meaning I would no longer be able to work out the same time as my partner. We met one last time at the gym and I thanked him for being a great spotter and motivator for me, and for always being such a great encourager. I introduced him to another friend who was looking for a training partner. They shook hands and I heard those same words as when we first met. “Just call me Larry.”  Yep, they were going work out together.

A couple of years later I was reading the newspaper one evening and noticed an article about my old alma mater, more specifically, a department head who was leaving the school and would be moving his counseling program to Colorado. I looked intently at the man’s picture in the paper, and couldn’t believe it. Then a smile came to me, because, yes, I could believe it. There was old Larry. Dr. Larry Crabb. My workout buddy was one of the leading Christian counselors in America, Bible teacher, taught men and women in a leading theological seminary, was a seminar speaker, and had already written several books, one a best seller. And he never spoke one word about any of it. Now what do you do with a man like that? Well, personally, I call him awesome!

Realizing my workout partner, “old Larry,” had a scholastic pedigree a mile long, and never said anything about it really wasn’t a surprise as I thought about the man. He wasn’t there to brag of his accomplishments so I and others could stand in awe. He was there to be a part of us, but in the same token we could see there was something different about him. That something was Grace. Charles Spurgeon said it like this, “Grace puts its hand on the boasting mouth, and shuts it once for all.” I imagine I learned more about living for Christ by Larry’s actions, than I would have sitting in his classroom. And for that, I am so thankful.

Of course, I wouldn’t, but if I was called upon to eulogize the “Traveler of the Rock Road,” Dr. Larry Crabb, I couldn’t because frankly I didn’t the know the man. But if I was asked to say a few words about old Larry, I know exactly what I would say. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” And I would add; Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” While millions of others knew Dr. Crabb as a teacher, writer, and scholar, I am so thankful I knew the old Larry, who lived out his life so others in a sweating gym could see grace as Christ wants all who believe in Him to experience. Thank you, Larry. Thank you, Jesus!

See ya next time.





One response

7 03 2021

It’s amazing that Larry never let on who he was. Now that’s humility.
A great story with an insightful point, as always, John. I recommend your blog to anyone who will listen.

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