“I suck. I’m a loser!” He said this to me a hundred times since his divorce. I parked my BMW on his empty parking space in front of his dilapidated apartment.
“Hey, it’s almost nine. Wake up,” I told Butch, my brother who was still in bed.
Lewd posters decorated the wooden wall. Dozens of cans of beer scattered across. Adult magazines and cigarette butts were all over the floor. And so were some burned kernels of popcorn, half-eaten pizza slices and unfinished hotdogs. He called this his dominion. A smell of vomit reigned.
“What brings you here?” Butch said as he tried to get out of bed.
“I’m dropping by to give you this,” I handed a Bible and an envelope with $50 bills I promised him days ago.
“Ah yeah, thanks,” he mumbled as he massaged his head. I unobtrusively examined his countenance. Bitterness and despair filled his eyes. Hangover and pain were etched all over his face.
“Since your door is wide open, I invited myself in assuming you’re still here.” I looked at him. His gaze reflected anxiety. My heart felt his angst.
“Yeah, still here,” Butch replied. His uncombed hair stood up pointing in all directions. He didn’t look as the strong older brother that he used to be. He looked like one unfinished, disheartened hotdog. My heart cried with him.
“Aren’t you supposed to be at work at this time?” I queried as I struggled not to shed a tear.
“Who’d love to clean toilet bowls everyday?” Butch sadly replied. His face grimaced as if stabbed with a rusty kitchen knife and burst, “Who can’t love your work? Big pay. Respect. Lots of perks. Yeah, you’ve got a great job!”
“How’s Cindy?” I quickly changed the topic but regretted doing so.
“She’s okay. She’s already eighteen,” Butch answered. “She told me to back off.”
“You know. Independence. No more adult supervision. Actually, she doesn’t want anything to do with me,” he said it like it’s great news.
“She said that?”
“She’s still mad at me - blaming me for driving her mom away,” Butch mumbled and stood up to go to the bathroom.
While I sat on a lone stool waiting for him to come out from the bathroom, I could still remember Butch’s words of shame and defeat. His wrong choices knocked him down. The consequences of those decisions now harassed him. Who could imagine a strong Christian and a respectable family man as he was could have reached an existence like this?
I cried within. No peace. No joy. No love. I sighed. No strength. No motivation. No life direction. My soul wept. How many others are like him? Oh, God! My brother’s a perfect replica of so many more.
Sitting alone in this quiet ‘dominion’, the Holy Spirit seemed to speak to my grieving heart. A Scripture passage echoed in my brain. God’s Spirit refreshed me. His Word strengthened me. I slowly quoted the verses to myself, “Jesus went through all the towns… teaching… preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.”
Yes, the Lord Jesus healed and can heal every sickness including this one. I continued quoting the verses, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them….”
“He had compassion on them,” I whispered.
“… because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:35-37 NIV). I finished quoting with a fresh perspective.
I heard the whizzing sound of the electric razor turning off and the bathroom door squeaking open. Butch came out with a smile –a countenance so different than the one he had earlier. With a blazing red towel around his waist, he strode to where I put the Bible.
“I’ll read this again,” he sounded hopeful and determined. I smiled back. My heart leaped with joy. He grasped the Bible firmly and walked towards the window. He opened the draperies. He gazed at the world out there. He’s silent for one eternity moment. Then, he turned around and looked straight in my eyes.
“And why do you go through all this trouble?” he asked.
“Am I not my brother’s keeper?” I replied with the will, the soul and the heart to welcome him back to His fold.
Butch moved towards the wall and ripped off the ‘decorations.’ With purposive steps, he gathered the beer cans, the magazines and the cigarette butts and dumped them in the trash can.
“Time to clean up,” he beamed.
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