We climbed out of the truck, leaving it with the valet, and made our way to the hotel entrance. I noticed an elderly couple sitting on a bench and asked, “How are y’all today?” The old man replied, “Broke,” and gave me a weary grin. The hotel we were walking into was part of a casino resort. We were there for the Texas League AllStar game and festivities. My husband was to be the field manager for the South Team and the host organization was putting the team and the coaches up in this resort. Believe it or not in my 56 years here on this earth, I had never been to a casino. I never had the desire to, but thought maybe since we were here, I would see what it was all about. The hotel lobby was quite large. To the right were the elevators that took guests to their rooms. To the left was the entrance into the casino, with all the rows and rows of brightly lit machines. We took the elevator up to our very nice room, and then had a quiet dinner. Afterwards, we decided to take my little bag of quarters and go check out the casino.
I had pictured in my mind the casinos on TV shows and in the movies where people dropped a quarter into a slot machine and pulled the lever, but quickly discovered this was not the case here. As we walked across the brightly colored carpet, we soon discovered these machines were set up to where you slide your credit card to play. I told my husband there was no way I was doing that. As we made our way to the back of the casino, I started noticing the people sitting at those machines. Dozens of them hypnotized by the gaming machine in front of them, the same look people have when looking at their cellphones. One woman in particular was turned a little bit away from the slot machine, arm draped over the back of her stool, her hand holding a cigarette. At first we thought she was sleeping, but her eyes were barely open. She looked stoned, or just worn out from hours of gambling. A man who appeared in need of a shower, walked by and said hello. He looked like a homeless fella, and I wondered if he was trying to hit the jackpot using the money given to him by kind strangers on the street. I had seen enough and told my husband I had to get out of there. We walked back towards the entrance, passing a few ballplayers and coaches we knew, stopping to speak with them. I couldn’t concentrate on our conversations while being surrounded by the zombies sitting on stools, staring at their machines and rapidly pressing a button over and over. I was watching people lost in their sin, or maybe it was God showing me a reflection of how I look in my own sin when I drift away from what He wants. Whatever it was that I was witnessing, I was overwhelmed and needed to get out of this place that seemed to be a sort of hell. When we finally made it back to the lobby and sat down, I felt like I could catch my breath. Almost in tears, I was finally out of that place and everything would be okay. As my husband and I sat there, a woman leaving the casino walked past us. She was dressed in a ratty old dress, wearing no shoes. She looked tired, frazzled, and like she had lost everything but a torn dress on her back. That was all it took for the tears to come. I felt so bad for those lost souls who stared into a machine for hours. They were falling deeper and deeper into despair as they searched in the wrong place for their hope. Then I noticed the red line. There was a red strip of carpet where the tile floor of the lobby ended and the carpeted area of the casino began. I thought of all the people who had crossed that red line and who were now lost because of their decision. I thought about how there have been times in my life when I’ve crossed that line and sin had a grip on me.
We are all born sinners. Throughout our lives all of us sin daily in many ways, but I believe there is one particular sin front and center that we always have to battle against. As much as God knows us and our hearts, so does Satan. Satan knows the one sin that constantly tempts us. It could be anything from jealousy, lying, cheating, gossiping, sexual perversion, addiction, pride, the list could go on and on. He knows where we are weak, that one thing especially that we desire deep down, and he works on us to pull us across sin’s red line. Satan makes sin look so appetizing, a casino with bright lights and promises of a big win. Just like those people staring into a slot machine, we can be pulled in and begin living in a sin that is so deep and hopeless, there seems to be no escape from it. We can become as that old gentleman on the bench said to me, “Broke.”
There is a way to fix being broke. There is a way back across the red line. I was fortunate enough to hear about The Way my entire life, but it took me a while to REALLY grab ahold of it. God has offered us a lifeline and no matter how deep you find yourself in sin, His lifeline can reach out across any red line and pull you back to Him. All you have to do is believe in Jesus Christ and ask Him to come into your heart. Accepting Christ as our Savior does not mean we become perfection, we will still sin. What it means is that the temptation to cross the red line is not so strong, easier to resist, and we desire what God wants more than what Satan wants. What it means is, we find our hope in Him and are forgiven.
Once you were under God’s curse, doomed forever for your sins. 2 You went along with the crowd and were just like all the others, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air, who is at work right now in the hearts of those who are against the Lord. 3 All of us used to be just as they are, our lives expressing the evil within us, doing every wicked thing that our passions or our evil thoughts might lead us into. We started out bad, being born with evil natures, and were under God’s anger just like everyone else.
4 But God is so rich in mercy; he loved us so much 5 that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, he gave us back our lives again[a] when he raised Christ from the dead—only by his undeserved favor have we ever been saved— 6 and lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms—all because of what Christ Jesus did. 7 And now God can always point to us as examples of how very, very rich his kindness is, as shown in all he has done for us through Jesus Christ.—Ephesians 2:1-7