A Chance for the Chancers

Several years ago, I rented a room from Bekah's aunt; her aunt shared her four and a half bedroom house with eight guys. One bedroom for her, which meant the eight of us dudes split the remaining three and a half bedrooms. Do the math, it was crowded. Most of us were musicians, and the house had become a place to hang out for many people.

She also owned a second house that was home to a handful of young women. The residents of both places were there for various reasons, some battled addictions, others were trying to start a new life, but all of us needed a cheap place to stay.

The door to the guys house was a revolving door for a colorful cast of characters, most of whom were not residents. Our motley crew was most evident on Friday nights when we would meet for an often crowded Bible study. Drew led the worship, and over the course of a few months became one of the best friends I've ever had. Tommy sang and played various instruments in a band; I helped promote them, but I was more or less an over-glorified roadie. Terry was an ex-drug dealer, ex-rave DJ, and ex-husband who had left his old life moving half-way across the state to clean up and start over. There was a skater kid who was still in high-school; his mom couldn't handle him so she insisted he lived with us as long as he went to church and stayed in school. One of the guys was a semi-pro skater, another a youth pastor. One time, a homeless guy showed up to have a sandwich.

Then there was Nicole. She didn't live in the girls house and didn't really believe in God. She showed up every Friday night, tired from a full day of skateboarding. She often slept through the Bible study, but would hang out afterwards to chat and relax. For her, our house was a safe environment. We all knew she had issues, but knew little about the specifics. Despite lacking religious beliefs of her own, she listened when we talked about our faith. During the Bible study she usually sat on the couch closest to who ever was speaking or on the floor in the middle of the room. However, one night she sat in the back of the room. Terry noticed something was wrong and he pulled her out of the group; Terry, Nicole, and Bekah's aunt disappeared into one of the bedrooms.

Our study continued as usual. Most nights, the crowd thinned slowly with several people staying to joke around, pass around the guitar for group sing-a-longs, shot hoops in the back yard, or skated out front. The late night after Bible study was a social time were we were known to stay up late into the next morning singing and making music, or engaged in deep philosophical conversations. But that night, only a few people lingered. I think most of us realized that something was out of the ordinary.

At some point, Bekah went into the room were Terry had taken Nicole. Most people went home. Finally Drew and I were the only two left in the living room. Terry came out and explained what was going on. Nicole had a drug problem. Sometime earlier that day, Nicole had hit bottom and decided it was time to quit doing drugs; she decided to go cold turkey. Terry recognized her tremors the instant she came in. She was experiencing hyperreflexia and had severe cramping in her limbs. Bekah and her aunt were massaging Nicole's arms and legs to relieve tension. Terry was trying to keep her body temperature up with warm rags. He was talking her through the DTs, keeping her as calm as possible to avoid panic attacks, and making her eat bananas to give her some source of potassium.

Drew and I wanted to help, but there wasn't much we could do. Being musicians we did the only thing we knew how: we picked up our guitars and began to play. Earlier that night, I taught Drew the chord progression for Dave Matthews' "Crash." Drew started with that song to make sure he could competently play it and I sang along. At the end of the song, he plucked the opening riff to Poor Old Lu "Chance for the Chancers." This song was a house favorite and one that we all knew by heart. What caused Drew to play that song, I don't know. But it was the right song choice. With both of us strumming our guitars, we sang the first few words at the top of our lungs: "EVERYTHING'S GONNA BE OK!"

Laughter erupted in the bedroom next door. On the worst night of her life, Nicole needed to hear that everything was going to be OK. We continued to sing. "He's going to wipe those tears away - And before this night is through - This is all going to make sense to you."

From what Terry told me the next day, that was Nicole's turning point. As soon as she heard us playing "Chance for the Chancers," Nicole relaxed. Her body temperature began to regulate on her own and her breathing steadied. Conversation began with Nicole speaking clearer. Over the next few days, Nicole cleaned up, and (last I heard) she stayed clean through the years since then.

That's what we all needed to hear. That things were going to be OK. That things will make sense. That all things work together for the good (Rom 8:28).

On rough days, this song frequently comes to mind. Through stress and turmoil, my brain returns to to this Poor Old Lu song, and it sings, "Everything is gonna be OK."


  1. Done deal. Email me when you get a chance. Let me know what to pray for.

  2. Anonymous10:59 AM

    Nic, our family feels it is a privilege to pray for your family. We have been praying for you ever since you were a teenager! Love your famiy lots, M. I.

  3. Anonymous11:51 AM

    Hey let Milton and I know if there is anything specfic we should pray about.
    Love the Grambo's