Learning to Steer
Bruce woke up with a start and for a moment he could not remember where he was or how he got there. Suddenly he remembered Michelle and looked around for her. He must have been high because the house was not that large but it took him 30 minutes to find her. When he did he felt excited over the sight of this beautiful young lady. Then he saw the bottle and rescued it from her hand and took a deep drink. He didn’t want to wake her up so he carefully made his way through the rubble to what must have been a bedroom. Bruce took another drink and looked through a closet of wet, damp clothes. He was not really sure what he was looking for but he felt there was something that he simply had to find. He felt like he had lost something in that closet. A sound from the back door startled him and he stepped into the closet and pulled the door shut.
Fredrick woke up if you can call it that. Really he felt as if he had not slept a wink. Loud snoring came from someplace in the dorm. Several guys were moving around trying to be respectfully quiet and get ready for the day. A couple of other guys were getting ready for the day but were obviously not trying to keep it quiet. In the dim light, Fredrick saw someone sitting on their bunk, reading a Bible. He remembered seeing his dad sitting in a chair reading the same way. Not really reading as much as studying and trying to digest the words. Fredrick marveled at the memory that had been buried for so long. Before he realized it he was crying. “But why?”
Angie was driving well below the speed limit this morning but not because of the ticket from yesterday; but because of the bumper to bumper traffic. “Where are all of these people going? Is there some sort of evacuation that nobody told me about?” She continued to move inches and feet at a time. Up ahead she could see an exit ramp and carefully mapped out in her head an alternative route to work. It would be a little tricky but she felt that this new route would get her around the construction that she could see up ahead. With any luck the new route would get her to work on time.
Joanne woke up with grass in her mouth. She looked over the marker in front of her and read her mother’s name several times. The dates really struck her. She did the math in her head, “Twenty-six years old.” Joanne shook her head. “Mom, why?” She began pacing now, rubbing her hands together. “Beloved mother and wife. Didn’t you know that we loved you? Why did you kill yourself? I would have behaved better. I promise I would have. I’ll clean my room. I’ll do the dishes. I’m sorry mom.” Silence filled the cemetery that was now covered in early morning light. The sky was clear. Joanne touched the headstone and then saw an envelope taped to the marker with her name on it. The letters were a bit smeared from the rain, but that was definitely her name. She could hardly breathe.
Sarah began the day as she had for the past several weeks. She pulled out her Bible and her notebook. She reviewed her plans and dreams and then prayed. She prayed for the world. She prayed for her pastor. She prayed energetically for the Freedom Club and specifically Mike. She prayed for Michelle. As she did so tears filled her eyes. “Do whatever it takes to set her free.” Sarah paused and thought about what she had just said, “Just don’t hurt her too bad.” She then thought some more, “Do what You need to do, Father. I don’t want to see her hurt but do what must be done.”
Bruce wished that he could see what was going on. It sounded like someone was kicking in the back door. It also sounded like someone was coming in the front door. But the sounds were muffled and he could not make any sense of it. Maybe if he was clean and sober he could have made out the shouts and orders of the police that were coming through the doors and questioning Michelle. Bruce sat back in the closet and tried not to breathe. As he made himself small he found an old leather book. Instinctively he grabbed the book and clutched it. Now he could hear movement in the room outside of the closet. A man was speaking but Bruce’s mind could make no sense of the words. He started crying. When the door opened he screamed and then passed out.
In the bathroom of the Gospel Rescue Mission, Roger straightened out his tie and checked himself out. His job at the hotel was a real blessing. While others were struggling getting by on minimum wage jobs or struggling to even find a job; he was earning good money at the front desk. If he played his cards right in a few months he would be a manager and the possibilities were endless. He resolved not to forget the men that had encouraged him here. He made his way down the hall to the dining room for some coffee and breakfast before he made his way across town.
Rosie was enjoying the week. Several times she had stopped by to see Fredrick and had some pleasant conversations and met some of his new friends. She had seen Roger one day; but tried not to look at him. She was afraid that he would be embarrassed, or was it because she was embarrassed. Rosie just wasn’t sure. She enjoyed the meals and liked seeing her husband sober. He had attended a couple of recovery services and they seemed to give him some clarity.
Mike was surprised earlier in the week when he ran into Sarah in the courtroom. They sat together but didn’t say anything. They both knew why they were there. While guilt was there, they both felt relieved that they knew where their children were. While they were tempted to bail them out, they kept each other strong and let the two pay the price for their choices. After court was over they silently sat in the diner and drank coffee. Being present was enough. They both had a ton of questions. But they knew there were no good answers so they chose to simply be together. After they prayed together they both said that they would see each other the next day at Freedom Club and departed. The separation felt awkward but they didn’t know why.
Joanne had been staying at Gospel Rescue Mission now for a couple of days. She mostly kept to herself and talked with staff only. Every day she would read over the wet note and try to make sense of it. All that she could clearly read was that the note was from her dad. She had no idea where he was, but for the first time in years she wanted to be with him. Several times she had tried to call him, but when she finally got the call to go through some stranger had answered the phone. She knew that he had sold their home and was out there somewhere. Maybe he was looking for her too? The thought made her smile.
Mike prepared for the Freedom club message diligently that week. Now that he knew where Bruce was, he felt better able to focus. As he prayed he felt the Holy Spirit comforting him and touching his thought life. When he completed his preparation he sat back in his recliner and thought, “This is going to upset some people. But if this is what you want me to say, then so be it.” With that Mike took a deep breath and turned on the television.
Mike, Rosie and Sarah decided to have dinner before Freedom Club. Rosie shared the excitement of seeing her husband doing so well. He was closer to being the man that she had married. She was still a bit cautious and made sure that her friends knew that she was not rushing into anything. “She raved about the recovery groups and the life changing courses that Fredrick was taking. I think they really have a cure of this disease.”
“What disease is that, Rosie.”
“Well, you know. Addiction.”
Mike took a breath and sipped his sweet tea. He casually looked around.
“I don’t really see addiction as a disease. I know that many will compare it to diseases like heart failure or diabetes. They make the point that nobody chooses to be an addict. That is all well and true. Up to a certain point they are correct. For a long time I went along with that sort of thinking. But one day as I was praying and reading my Bible I began to see similarities between addiction and idol worship. “