He said, “I’m from Broward and I-95”.
One time, when someone said they were from New Jersey another called out “what exit?”. Another time, one of the new men announced “I’m from New Jersey, I’m Puerto Rican and I don’t carry a switch blade.” Most of the time, the new men who are asked to stand and give us their name and tell us where they’re from do just that. They say, “I’m Michael and I’m from Michigan.” “I’m James and I’m from Long Island.” No one ever says they’re from detox or prison or under the bridge, even if that’s their last place of residence. But He did. Sunday morning at the beginning of our worship gathering he stood and said, “I’m ___, and I’m from Broward and I-95.”
He was referring to the intersection one block from this Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC). The intersection we’d seen him holding his sign. He’s not new to our ARC. Earlier this year he was part of the community here. He had a clean bed to sleep in, three good meals a day, purposeful activity and counseling. He could wear clean clothes every day. He was given fresh clothes, a suit and good shoes. And like so many, he left. One day, he walked out. Before that week was over I saw him at the intersection with his sign. I knew it was him before I slowed my car for the light. My heart sank. You traded clean for dirty? Food and safety for begging? Order for chaos?
That is addiction. Alcoholism. It trades truth for lies. Lies offering relief, escape, power, control. Seduction in a bottle.
He spoke the truest words today. He isn’t hiding from anyone. We know his journey and that the map he follows leads to dead ends.
Not coincidence Henry’s message today was about direction. We look for signs and guidance and when it’s in front of us we look the other way. We don’t want to go that way but our way. A shortcut. An easier way. This time will be different. But I am trading truth for lies, diamonds for clay.
I have believed the lie I can do it myself. I have believed I can be in control. I have believed it’s not as bad as what she did. I have settled for mediocrity when God wanted my best. Turns out my best is letting Him be in control. My best is letting Him lead my life.
For one it’s alcohol and another heroin and still, for another, it’s power. Or work, or money.
For all of us it’s grace. If we accept it. That is truth that leads to life.