Yesterday, Julia, Paul, and I went to a lecture with Tim Green. It was a refreshing reminder of the prophetic voice of undividedness in the Deuteronomic (Deuteronomy) and Deuteronomistic (Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Hosea, and Jeremiah) texts. This was a bit of a review of my first masters class at SNU last year with Tim. During the class, I was reminded of a friend of mine in Florida. I call him a friend, but I haven't really put forth any effort to stay in contact with him. Which of course, speaks more about my lack of friendship to him, but nonetheless, I'll call him friend even though it's been eleven years since I've seen him.
Skinny Dave was a crack addict. He was older than me by a few years. He had a wife and two children in another state. I don't remember how he had begun, but while I knew him, he was more than definitely an addict. He would be fine, we'd hang out, talk Rock and Roll, The Smiths, Morrissey, Elvis Costello (still my favorite), Pearl Jam, Midnight Oil, Living Color, the Clash, Green Day, and theology. We'd drive around, eat at Taco Bell, hang out, whatever. It's what we did. Then, every two or three months, he'd disappear.
He was living with his mom and dad and I'd get a call from them, "Hi Evan, have you seen Dave in the last couple of days?" I would tell them no, and they'd thank me and hang up. We all knew it had started. He'd go missing for a week, sometimes longer, and then he'd call his parents from jail or he'd show up somewhere strung out and broke. It didn't matter, though, Skinny Dave was my friend.
One time, in my naivete, I asked him what crack had that God didn't. Skinny Dave said, "There's no feeling in the world like it. There's no high like it. and when you're up, you are the most generous person in the world. Then, the bottom drops out from under you and you there's nothing you won't do to feel that way again. Nothing!"
Skinny Dave sometimes lived in a halfway house. A guy in the church, who did this sort of thing, would work with him. The guy talked to me about Dave a lot. One time he told me that what Dave needed was some tough love. I think it's tough to love a crack addict in the first place, but I don't think that's what he meant. After the binge, Skinny Dave would come back, penitent, and he'd be fine for a few months, ridding his body of the drugs, cutting out that crap inside of him.
We worked our way through the Deuteronomistic texts yesterday (and this is most clearly illustrated in Judges) and Israel would be going along fine, then they'd slip back into their old ways of worshiping Ba'al. God calling out to them, "I will be your God and you will be my people." Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Elijah, Josiah, and sometimes even God himself would remind them of God's deliverance and provision. Israel would fall into the tyrannical hands of some other nation who would enslave them and when they were tired of it, they would repent, and cry out. Once again, God would deliver them.
I hear Joshua saying "make your choice, God or Ba'al. Me and my clan will serve God." Israel would respond, "Of course we'll serve God, we wouldn't be God's people if we didn't." And Joshua would say, "Okay, but you can't do it." They couldn't either. I can't either. And Skinny Dave sure couldn't do it. Three months later, Skinny Dave would disappear, this time with his mother's car, using it to buy more crack.
In Moses' sermons in Deuteronomy he constantly tells Israel, "The Lord God is One, Love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." But they couldn't. Toward the end of the sermons, Moses finally gives them the answer they've needed. Deuteronomy 30:6 "The Lord will circumcise the foreskin of your hearts and the hearts of your children, so that you can love him with all your heart, with all your soul in order that you may really live." I can't do it, but God can.
I thought a lot about Skinny Dave yesterday and today and will probably think about him tomorrow. He reminds me of, well, me. I can't do it either. It is only by the grace of God that I have life. All that I have is his, but I can't do it. So, I pray that God circumcise my heart that I may love him undividedly. "Lord, I believe, but help me in my unbelief." I know without God's grace, I'll be back to my church growth, manipulative, productive, baalistic, idolatrous, consumerist ways in just a few months no matter the measure I take to purge all the poles, pillars, and priests of Asherah and Ba'al out of my life.
I don't know what has happened to Skinny Dave, but I hope he hears God's call as clearly as Skinny Dave has helped me to hear it. "I will be your God and you will be my People."