Sunday, October 19, 2003

From the edge of the abyss

Psalm 88
3 For my soul is full of troubles,
And my life draws near to the grave.
4 I am counted with those who go down to the pit;
I am like a man who has no strength,
5 Adrift among the dead,
Like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom You remember no more,
And who are cut off from Your hand.

I have a third brother I haven't talked about in this blog. He hasn't been around much. I'll call him "Toby."

Toby is an alcoholic. He's been one since late adolescence. When he's drinking heavily, he cuts off communication with everyone and drops off the face of the earth. He had disappeared once again the last few months. I tried to find him when Mom went in the hospital, with no success.

He disappeared once for about six years, then turned up a couple of years ago, just when I was starting to think he was dead. I had put his name on the emergency prayer chain at church. There are wonderful intercessors at this church who have kept Toby in their prayers ever since.

Toby called me yesterday. He had gone to Mom's house and no one was there -- not Mom, not her pets. He thought she had died. He sounded like he was in bad shape.

When I got there, I could see that he was indeed in awful shape. He had a bad case of the DT's. Some of the stuff he was saying made no sense, and I realized he was having hallucinations. His arms and legs had gotten thin, while his abdomen was huge.

Toby didn't want detox, but I finally got him to agree to medical treatment. I took him to Burger King for a cheeseburger and coffee, which he could hardly get to his mouth for the tremors, then to a care center, where the doctor arranged for admittance to the hospital.

Toby has been in my prayers continually since Wednesday night. We had a parish (church) meeting to talk about the divisive issues in the church over homosexuality and the election of a gay bishop.

I stood up and spoke about my brother. He has hated himself since he realized he was a homosexual. He spent his adolescence in torment over it. He did not choose to be gay.

If sin is a deliberate and unrepentant disobedience against God, then homosexuality is not a sin. It is not a choice. It causes anguish. My brother always felt he was outside the social pale, an outcast. Toby has been a recluse most of his adult life. Adrift.

Frankly, I was surprised by the outpouring of love, sympathy and understanding for our gay brothers and sisters at this meeting, in this politcally conservative part of the country.

One woman stood up and talked about the Catch 22 gays find themselves in: We heterosexuals seek out loving, committed relationships. We treasure them. Yet, we deny these loving relationships to homosexuals. We tell them having a relationship outside marriage is a sin. At the same time, we tell them they can't have any kind of blessed or married relationship. We expect them to live without a committed, loving relationship.

This stabbed me in the heart. I thought about Toby's loneliness, his rejection of himself. I don't think he's ever had any kind of close and loving relationship.

I think Toby had intended to drink himself to death on this last tout. God heard his cry and the prayers of many and rescued him from the edge of the abyss.

When Toby was trying to avoid detox yesterday, (he's been through it at least twice before), he told me he wanted to find out about Christ. I know he was trying to con me -- to find a hook I'd respond to. I told him I was "his" person to talk to about it, but the first priority was medical attention. I anointed him with oil and prayed for him before taking him to the medical center.

When I left the hospital today, the technicians were getting ready to do a scan of his abodmen. I took his hands, prayed for him and told him again that I love him. I know he was humoring me by letting me pray, but I believe the Holy Spirit is working on his spirit.

I love you Toby, and I will keep praying for you. I will be tough enough to do whatever I need to do to help you.

Today, I've been offering up prayers of gratitude to God for saving my brother, for pulling him back to the land of the living. I am saying prayers of thanksgiving for all those who have been praying for my brother.

1 comment:

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