Sarah held her breath when she saw the two police officers standing there. She thought that she should invite them in but fear captured her every thought. “Something is wrong. Why are they here?” Getting a firm hold on her thoughts, Sarah moved to the side and invited them in. In a high state of alertness they seemed to survey the entire room. One stood by the door and the other was looking around. The officer by the door did all of the talking. “Have you seen your daughter today?” Sarah took a deep breath. “No. I thought that you had her.” “She escaped this afternoon from Community Service. We thought maybe she would come here.” “I promise you that if she shows up I will call you.” The officers seemed to notice that there was not much furniture in the apartment.
The officer watched Sarah intently and instantly understood the situation. He knew that this was a woman that was hurting for someone in addiction. “I really don’t have much left. She knows that I love her but that she needs to get clean before I will give her anything else.” The officer nodded and patted her gently on the shoulder. “Thank you mam.” They left. Sarah watched the door shut and sat on the couch to cry.
Angie came running into the meeting room and looked around. She saw Santa and smiled and then noticed Rosie looking a bit downcast and decided that she would sit with her this evening. She had expected to see Sarah and was surprised that she had not arrived yet. It was almost meeting time. Roger stirred his coffee and simply sat quietly next to Rosie.
Mike made his way up to the lectern and began with the 23rd Psalm. Then he cleared his throat and prayed for everyone. He could sense that the mood was somber and he was not sure what to do with that so he just went on with the lesson that he had in mind.
“A couple of weeks ago I began a lesson from Genesis 19. We had left Lot there in the city gate. Lot is humble he meets the angels there at the city gate. He is very submissive and offers to wash their feet and feed them well. Of course he does not really know that these are angels so this is his real heart. He invites them into his home and expects nothing in return. This idea of hospitality in the Middle East can be a fascinating study all in its own. We can learn from other from them and other cultures and apply it to our lives. The idea of serving others seems to be lacking in our community in many cases. What would it look like for us to purposely serve other people and expect nothing in return?” Most in the room nodded in understanding. Sarah walked in quietly and sat down next to Angie. She looked at Mike and said that she was sorry with her eyes.
“Lot brings them into his home to care for them. But notice where he is now in the story, He is in the midst of the city. We become like the people we hang around with. Lot is surrounded by scoundrels. The city if filled with immorality and sin. The people that we love and care about will slowly become like the people that they hang out with. Many think that when they get clean and sober that they can simply hang out with the same friends and stay sober. Rarely does that work out. Later in the Genesis 19 we see Lot’s wife looking back longingly and is turned into a pillar of salt. Somehow our mind is able to forget the pain of addiction and only remembers the positive. Unfortunately, the positive actually never happened. The positive is actually the illusion of what the next high will be like. Those in addiction remember their drug fantasy as reality. They somehow forget the damaged lives, the lost jobs and jail time associated with their crimes. Even after many years of sobriety those that have been cured of their addiction can look back and miss the good old days. This is why many teach that once an addict always an addict sort of thought. I don’t believe that. I totally believe that you can be cured. All sin has an illusion of fun and blessing but like addiction it is a lie. We can be set free. In fact that is what Jesus came to do. Teaching anything different is discounting the power of God. Because Lot had acclimated his wife and family to sin, she looked to go back to it.
A short time later in the story, Lot sleeps with his daughters and produces offspring. Lot is infected with sin and it all started with failing to stop and seek God. The two nations that resulted from this relationship present consistent troubles for the nation of Israel. Sin is never about one person. Many claim freedom, as long as it does not hurt anyone. All sin hurts multiple people. Look at the commandments. It would be impossible to break even one of those without hurting other people. When Lot was in the valley life was good and prosperous. Fear drove him into the city instead of to God. Imagine the trouble he could have saved himself and the future nation of Israel if only he would have stopped when he felt the fear building, built and altar and sought God. I think there is an important lesson to be learned there.”
There was much soul searching going on. The room felt heavy and nobody really seemed ready to speak or move.
After a short prayer the large group broke down into smaller groups. Suddenly the room came alive. There was much animation as they all discussed events of their week. Soon Angie and Sarah were sitting in Santa’s class. Rosie had decided to go home. Roger was talking on the phone.
“My lesson tonight could be called, ‘How to listen to your soul’s whisper’
We live in a very loud world. Billboards scream at us as we drive down the freeways. Radio, social media, television and movies all demand our attention and loyalty. Then you add in peer pressure, family pressure, and employer pressure and suddenly your soul is in the midst of a storm. Where can you find peace? Not simply external peace but true from the bottom of your very being peace. Tonight I want to share some tips with you on how to find this peace. Of course all true peace begins with a relationship with Jesus Christ. Other things that bring you peace are only temporary.”
Many notebooks were pulled out and pens were scribbling.
“It starts with a wilderness experience. There is something healing that happens to the soul when you get out of the public and into nature. This could be woods, a beach or a mountain. Look at majestic scenes and allow yourself to dream and imagine a life of peace. For those more daring and willing to allow their soul to really live give this experience enough time to work its power. Walk through the woods and spend the night among the critters and creation. Breathe in the fresh air and allow your mind to simply rest. Watch the squirrels play. Observe animals in their natural habitat. See life lived simply for the moment to moment experience of life. Literally stop and smell flowers and go out on a quest for greater and more spectacular views. I remember being in Los Angeles on the beach late one night. Looking out across the ocean, I actually forgot about the city and all of its noise just behind me. I could sense my purpose and felt fully alive.”