As a junior in high school, Luke Keller was ready to end his life.
The teen suffered from depression, suicidal thoughts and separation-anxiety disorder. To top it off, his dad left him when he was only 10, his grandmother just died of cancer and his grandfather was sent to prison.
With the whirlwind of negative circumstances and wavering mental health, Luke was at a breaking point.
He can pinpoint the exact day when the thoughts of suicide became so real that he was finally ready to kill himself. He just couldn’t take it anymore.
Luke just got back from school and took a look at the chores list his mom left him. To clear his mind, he went out to cut the grass in hopes that the hum of the mower would calm his thoughts.
…But it didn’t have the effect that he had hoped.
With the urge to commit suicide still flooding his mind, Luke decided to finally reach out to somebody he’d never talked to before: God.
He said, “God if you are real, if you are what people say you are, then tell me something because today I’m going to end my life. I need you now if you’re real.”
As Luke continued to make his way through his chores list, he heard God say, “I want you to follow me.” Taken aback by a voice he’d never heard before, Luke asked God to repeat himself if that was really Him. Again, the voice confirmed, “I want you to follow me.”
It was clear as day. And Luke dropped to his knees and wept at the realization that the Maker of the universe cared enough to answer his broken plea.
Luke told IJ Lift that the experience was unexplainable. It left him in “complete shock” after he went through an excruciating year that left him feeling death was his only way out. Instead, God showed him that He was the way out.
Suddenly, his thoughts of suicide, anxiety and depression were all gone. It’s like he was a new person. He didn’t recognize himself…and it was beautiful.
The only words that Luke could find were, “Thank you. Thank you.”
He repeated those words incessantly, as they were the only ones that his tongue could formulate.
Ever since that moment, Luke decided he wanted to show God gratitude in everything he did—including the football field.
So after every touchdown his senior year, Luke would bend a knee in the end zone and point his finger toward the sky to give God credit for his accomplishment.
But not everyone approved of his touchdown routine. As his team headed into round 2 of the play-offs, Luke was told by the refs that if he did it again, he would be taken out of the game.
“I was completely devastated,” said Luke. “What I play for is to glorify God. I decided I was just going to do it and if I got thrown out, then I got thrown out. I wouldn’t even be here right now if it wasn’t for God saving me.”
But to encourage him at half-time, his sister slipped him a note that simply read: “Be patient and let God work.”
So that’s what he did.
When Luke scored the next touchdown, he didn’t point his finger up at God, but to his amazement, he turned around to see the 7,000 people in the stands doing the gesture for him.
Luke said, “I felt like God said, ‘Listen Luke, I told you Satan would come at you and I would separate it.’”
And his story still wasn’t over. Because of his amazing play, Luke was recruited to play for Morehead State University in Kentucky.
At the beginning of his sophomore season, he suffered a severe ankle injury that required surgery. But the doctor who operated on him accidentally performed surgery on both of his ankles.
Luke later broke his wrist, which required another surgery, and he ended up contracting MRSA from an infection related to the procedure.
Doctors told him he would probably never get to wear his uniform again.
Then six weeks later, the doctor called with news that floored him:
“He said, ‘Hey, are you sitting down?’ I’m thinking oh no, what else is going to come up,” Luke says. “He said, ‘I just wanted to tell you that God has blessed you. Your blood work is perfect. It’s completely back to normal.’”
Luke couldn’t believe his ears.
On October 10, 2015, Luke suited up for his team, and as he made his way onto the field, he was taken back to that day he was mowing the lawn. His God showed up today, the same way He did then.
Amidst it all, Luke Keller has reached one final conclusion according to the Portsmouth Daily Times:
“I know God is real. It’s the same feeling I had when I got saved while I was mowing my grass. It’s the same feeling I had when the crowd showed their support that night and gave credit to God. It’s the same feeling I had when I stepped back onto the field against Butler.”
What he was looking for in suicide he actually found in His Savior—the way out of the pain and into peace.
The same God who spoke to him then is still looking out for him now. And He cares about the little things—about the gesture he wasn’t allowed to make without being penalized, the broken ankle and the infection that could cost him his sports career. It may just be another old football game, but Luke knew God cared about how big it was to him.
So He let him play—and Luke played his heart out that night, once again for the One who made it all possible.
This story appeared originally in the Portsmouth Daily Times.