Sarah had meant to get up early and go for a jog but somehow the magnets on the couch kept her firmly horizontal until it was too late to get in a run before she needed to head into work. Initially she was disappointed. “This was supposed to be a new start and I am already failing.” She said to the mirror in the living room. “Maybe I should just give up now before I make an even bigger fool of myself.” But then she looked at the list. It was in that moment that she realized that she had just enough time to walk to work if she didn’t sit around the apartment feeling sorry for herself.
That afternoon Sarah met Angie for coffee. “I know that I told you about my aunt last night. I can’t do anything for her now. But let me tell you about my brother.” Angie shared with Sarah about her brother who was one of the hardest working guys that she knew. Ever since she could remember, he would be hired for a job and within a few months would get a promotion to be the boss. She remembered that he was the lead lifeguard at the city pool. When he got fired he accused his supervisor of being jealous of him. A few years later he was the lead dishwasher in the college dining facility and was fired. Again he said that it was because others were jealous. Angie stated that she always believed him. That is until she stopped by to visit him when he was the daytime manager of that hotel. When she arrived that day to surprise him, she was shocked to see him being chewed out but a man in a very nice suit. She hid behind a pillar as she listened in. The man accused him of all sorts of mistakes that apparently her brother had made. When it got quiet she saw the angry man, turn to her brother and put his arm around him. It looked like he was apologizing. Then a few minutes later she noticed that the man in the suit gave her brother a card. Later she found out that it was for a treatment center. Two days later he was checked into the treatment center for about a month. He came out and looked like a new man. He again worked hard and became a supervisor. But even that did not last. He again relapsed and lost that job. Angie had watched this dozens of times. “I keep hoping that he will somehow figure out that he needed to quit drinking so he could quit starting over.” Sarah nodded and wondered what it would take for someone in addiction to learn their lesson?
The two ladies reviewed the outline of the basic lessons they had learned the night before and resolved to study more on them in the days to come before the next meeting. Sarah resolved that she would definitely attend the small groups next time. It was strange because she had not expected to go to more than one meeting. Yet here she was technically continuing one meeting and look forward to a second one. Weird. Angie read the list of the five phases from her notes.
Do not fear
Learn to brake
Learn to steer
Maintain your sanity
Sarah was at the meeting a bit early and helped set up some chairs. Mike asked her to set out a couple of Bibles on each table while he started the coffee. Sarah noticed a cake sitting on the table. Thick icing of red, white and blue hid the chocolate cake underneath. Almost half of the cake was gone. “My birthday was just a couple of days ago. Bruce made that cake so we could celebrate. This is what is left. I thought that I would share the rest tonight.” Sarah smiled as she remembered several great birthday parties while her Michelle was growing up. Princesses and ponies covered most of the cakes. When she turned thirteen she just wanted a black cake and then after that it got weirder. Sarah had been afraid to question it. This week she realized that she should have done more.
Over the next twenty minutes people started coming in. Sarah recognized Roger and Rosie and shook their hands in greeting. She remembered Rosie’s name but not Roger’s. He did not seem offended when he reminded her. “It was Mike’s birthday this week and he is sharing his cake.” Others came and soon there were twenty of so folks sitting around chatting quietly and drinking coffee. Icing stained some of their mouths.
Mike walked out of a room down the hallway and looked frustrated. As he entered the room he stuffed that frustration and shared a big smile with everyone.
“You might notice that this week there are Bibles on the tables. Feel free to pick one up and follow along. I have shared here before that really there is no freedom for families apart from the power of the Gospel. Those in addiction need our prayers. While we talk about lots of things that we should do and not do for our loved ones trapped in addiction in this club. I want to communicate clearly that all of those things are good and right. But honestly only Jesus can heal and restore our families. Let me open in prayer and tonight I have a devotional to get us rolling.”
The Lord is my
shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Sarah had read the twenty-third psalm everyday this week to get her day going so it felt familiar and a taste of comfort like smelling bread baking in the oven. She reflected on the past week and the changes that she had taken in from the first week. No longer would she be afraid. Sarah realized that all of her troubles were light and momentary compared to the eternity that was awaiting her. Tonight she was ready to learn.
Mike finished the prayer and seemed to breathe in the atmosphere of the group. His eyes were still closed. A small smile crossed his face as he almost whispered, “Amen”
There was much banging of chairs and people getting up to get another cup of coffee. A few scurried to the bathroom or went to answer their vibrating cell phones.
Mike took a breath and looked around the room. Sarah stood up with a big smile.
“Happy Birthday, Mike. We should sing.” A few folks groaned but enough went along with it to sing along. As the song finished, Sarah noticed that Mike had a little tear.
“Let us look at Genesis 19. I will start at verse 1”
There was some rustling as the Bibles were flipped open.
The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. Genesis 19:1
For those who are not so familiar with the story. Let me share with you that Lot is the nephew of Abram who is eventually called Abraham. Back in chapter 13 of Genesis Lot and Abram were hanging out together and realized that they were both too prosperous to be together so they agreed to part company. Abram though the elder chose to give the choice of where to live to Lot. Abram was living a life of surrender. By the way that is a great character trait to develop.”
A few were scratching that thought into their notebooks.
“Lot chose the valley where Sodom was located. It looked beautiful and he felt that he could best prosper there. Notice he is looking out for himself where Abram is thinking of others.”
There were many nods.
“In chapter 14 Lot had been taken captive being caught in the middle of a war. Abram had come to the rescue and set him and all of his possessions free. There are many other events but when chapter 19 arrives. Lot is no longer in the valley. Sodom was known as a sinful city. Ezekiel 16:49 tells us that there biggest sin was pride and arrogance. Not only that but they did not share with the poor. It is true that some theologians debate the nature of the sin of Sodom. For the sake of this lesson, let us call Sodom a picture of sin. What happens in the case of all sin, not just addiction, is that folks move close to sin. They may not actually get involved but they get close to it. Maybe it is in the music or movies they watch. Over time they draw closer to it; ultimately some fear or some situation draws people into the sin. In Lot’s case it may have been the kidnapping situation that pushed him over the edge. It is hard to say, but the point is that when someone is already close to sin or addiction it only takes one event to send them there. When we look at verse 1 of chapter 19, Lot is right in the gate of the city. Many of those we love, and often we ourselves sit right on the edge of sin. Lot is not in the sin but not away from it either. He has moved from the valley and moved closer and closer to the sin.
From Genesis 12 where we meet Abram to this chapter we are looking at, we see Abram stops and worships, talks with God and build an altar. Nowhere do we see Lot worshiping, talking with God or building an altar.”
Many in the class were quickly thumbing through the pages of the Bible looking to see if what Mike said might be true. Mike paused to let them look.
“One thing in this that gives me hope is this realization that Abram did not want his nephew to get close to sin. He did allow it. But he did not encourage it. Our loved ones are stuck in their sin and addictions. But it is not our fault.”
A few of the group were a misty eyed just a bit.
“I try to put myself into the stories of the Bible and when I put myself in Lot’s shoes I think about the kidnapping. That would be traumatic to say the least. One day he was enjoying the prosperity of the land and the next day he was a captive wondering if he was going to live. But then I wonder if maybe, just maybe, if Lot would have prayed and worshiped he could have overcome the fear that drew him into the sin that so easily entangled him. Understand that prayer is our greatest weapon against addiction and sin.”