I hadn’t seen John in a long time and I was surprised when he called and asked me to join him for the opening weekend of March Madness (2008). I didn’t do a very good job hiding my astonished look when John opened the door. He was 70 lbs. heavier and looked like he hadn’t been out the house in weeks. March Madness was a good description of what was to follow.
Everything was set up for a weekend of hoops. There was more food than you would find in a Las Vegas buffet line and enough beverage refreshment to stock a Carnival Cruise Ship. It was pretty apparent this wasn’t the same guy I used to turn double plays with on the church softball team.
John told me how his life had fallen apart. First he lost his job, then things began to deteriorate at home and his wife left him. Eventually John just gave up. He quit looking for work and started down the path of self-indulgence (physically and morally). By the time we reconnected most of the life he once knew had been flushed down the toilet and all he had to look forward to were his back issues of the Sport’s Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and sports on television.
John suffered what many know as the domino effect. David experienced this when he started lusting after Bathsheba and many of the folks you meet soliciting in the Wal-Mart parking lot, or on some busy street corner have experienced a similar situation. One domino in their life teeters over and falls and sets off a chain reaction of bad luck and bad decisions.
My old friend was just another causality of sin who had been forgotten. No one from church bothered to visit anymore and most of his old friends had families – he just didn’t feel he fit in. He was alone and the next best answer to deal with the pain and loneliness was to self-medicate. Some people treat their sorrow with drugs and alcohol, others use sex as a temporary analgesic to numb the pain. John ate too much, watched too much television and indulged himself with internet pornography.
John didn’t have to turn on the television, he was a living, breathing example of March madness. He was broken, empty and didn’t know where to turn. John is the nameless, faceless, friend, neighbor or brother that each of us has known, but forgotten. After spending a day with John I better understood what Jesus meant when he told us to “leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go look for the one who has wandered off” (Matthew 18:12).
John is just one of the many people God placed in my life to remind me that we are all BROKEN. We all need a strong relationship with Christ and with our fellow man. It’s the John’s and Randy’s and Michelle’s that called me to write Broken and develop programs to help churches restore a spirit of ministry to the unloved, unwanted and unacceptable segments of our society.