Sermon: Healing for the Soul 1 Kings 19:1-18 March 13, 2005
Rest, Tell God all about it, Rediscover God, Develop an Others Orientation.
Police officer Ricky Orlowski was on patrol about 5 pm March 11 when he noticed a minivan with Illinois plates parked on a secluded street near a church and a school. “It’s not a real normal place for someone to sit and hang out, Orlowski said. The officer pulled the vehicle over when he saw it didn’t have working brake lights. For Bart Ross, a lonely man gripped by depression, rage and paranoia, this was the last straw. As the officer approached the van Ross shot himself in the head. Inside the van police found a suicide note in which Ross claimed responsibility for the murders of Judge Joan Leftkow’s husband and mother, saying Lefkow’s decision to dismiss his medical malpractice lawsuit cost him everything.
Ross’ troubles began years ago. A heavy smoker he was treated for cancer of the mouth at the University of Illinois. Surgery to remove part of his jaw bone and radiation saved his life. But the treatment left him disfigured, frustrated, depressed and alone. In a search for someone to blame Ross began a journey through the court systems. As case after case was thrown out of court Ross became more depressed, angrier and his behavior increasingly more erratic. So alone was Ross that as his bills mounted, as he faced eviction from the house he once owned and was forced to sell and begin renting, he couldn’t find anyone to care for his pets. About that time neighbors said they stopped seeing Ross walking his dog or on his porch having a smoke.
Since Feb. 14, 2005, I lived in my car moving around, Ross wrote in a note to a television station and when I got numb enough to care about nothing I finally did it.
A man opened fire with a handgun at a church service in a Wisconsin hotel on Saturday, killing seven people and wounding four before taking his own life. the unidentified 45-year-old shooter "was either a member or somehow affiliated with the church." What prompted the violence at this time we do not know, we can only image. Hurt, frustration, despondence, a sense of hopelessness and failure, failure of self and those around you.
Stories ripped from the headlines of today’s news. Stories of lost and hurting souls in pain. Stories that in some sense we can understand and relate too for most of us at some time or another have faced life’s struggles, and frustrations and have become exhausted, weary, burned out, anxious, despondent, and depressed,, The very depths of our soul have achee with the pain, loneliness, frustration and depression.
Even seemingly strong persons of God on the pinnacle of success face these feelings. Elijah was called by God to minister to the people of Israel, 900 years before Christ, the people of Israel where threatening to replace the true God with the pagan god Baal. Elijah had been called by God to stand in the gap at that critical hour to preserve the faith.
On Mount Carmel Elijah had faced 450 prophets of Baal in a duel to the finish. Each side had prepared a sacrifice to their god and then called on their God to send down fire to burn up the offering. The Prophets of Baal called on their god all morning, shouting and dancing wildly. Elijah mocked them. “You’ll have to shout lounder he scoffed for surely he is a god. Perhaps he is in deep thought or he is relieving himself or maybe he is away on a trip or he is asleep and needs to be awaked. They shouted louder and cut themselves with knives and swords until blood gushed but no fire rained down.