I was at a meeting of health care professionals this week discussing the topic of drug addiction and mental health. The first speaker told about a young man who fell into a deep pit. From the pit he could look up and see people walking by and would call out to them for help. He saw a doctor and said to himself, surely the doctor can help me out of the pit. So he called out to the doctor, who looked down into the pit, wrote a prescription on a piece of paper, threw it down into the pit and then went on his way. The prescription didn't help the young man out of the pit. He then saw person who professed to be a christian and seemed to always talk about God to people. The young man thought to himself, surely this christian can help me out of the pit. So he called out to the christian who looked into the pit, wrote down a scripture verse on a piece of paper and threw it down into the pit and then went on his way. The scripture didn't help the young man out of the pit. Then the young man saw a friend of his that he would look to occasionally for help and who always seemed to have time to be kind to him. He called to this friend for help. The friend looked into the pit saw the young man down there and jumped in. With both of them now in the pit, the young man asked why did you jump in here with me? Now we are both in here. The friend said, I came down here because I've been in the pit and but I needed to be here with you to show you the way out. Then clasping hands, the friend led the young man out of the pit.
In 2015, +52,000 Americans died from drug overdose, up from +47,000 in 2014. I wonder when as a nation we will awaken to the horror of these numbers and decide to do something about it. It is too easy for a self absorbed culture to read these numbers as statistics instead of seeing each loss as losing a sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, friends and family. For some of us, this is too real. While coaching college basketball in 1994, I lost Brian Smith (BeZo), our starting 2 guard, to gang violence. Brian was a great young man and part of our family. He was innocently gunned down while sitting on his front porch in the Bronx. for many, this is part of their daily reality. For among my dearest friends, his daughter (which means my daughter) today is more and more an empty shell as she struggles in a 10 year battle with heroin addiction. Every day my friend raises his grandchildren, while working every means available to save his daughters life. For my friend, this is a daily reality. At iMatter, we work with hurting kids and hurting parents who find themselves caught up in a vicious, take no prisoners battle, desperate to get out but finding no long term relief. For them, this is their daily reality.
This week we lost a daughter, sister and friend and we can't bring her back. As my friend Scott said this morning she just didn't die, she was killed. It's recent, raw and hard to process. It's was a week of grief and troubled sleep. Through tears, my wife said to me this morning, "I wish I had one more lunch with Ashley". Indeed.
Until our nation understands that this plague isn't affecting some of us, it's affecting all of us, we will come up short. Whether through addiction, gang violence, suicide or abortion our sons and daughters are targeted for annihilation and through the blood of the lamb, who cancelled out the sentence of death, we have the blessed assignment of bringing heaven to earth; of standing in the gap by jumping into the pit, instead of looking down, throwing down a facebook post and walking away.
We really can't mourn with those who mourn if we are not in the presence of those who mourn? Somehow a facebook post or a text without seeing our tears seems a bit thin. Matthew 5:46-47
I'd love to hear your thoughts and I'm sorry for the raw component. Heart broken today. Love you all.
See you on the streets. #berevealed