There's an amazing story published by the Associated Press this week on the final days of former St. Louis Cardinal catcher Darrell Porter. The story tells of Porter's struggle with cocaine and ultimately, the lost battle with the drug. Let me share just the opening paragraphs of the story. Then we'll talk.
"At his house in Lee's Summit, on the last full day of his tormented life, Darrell Porter plunged to his knees with the Bible in hand.
"He wept and pleaded.
"God, I can't handle it any more. You've got to do it for me."
This chilling story of Porter's nearly 20 year battle with cocaine should be mandatory reading for everyone. It doesn't apply just to those battling drug demons. It applies to battling demons of any sort - real or perceived.
Darrell Porter was by any measure a wonderful role model. Studious, quiet and extremely religious, Porter aired his dirty laundry for all to see and then promptly began to change his life. He would be the last person you would imagine with a drug problem. But Porter readily admitted that he indeed was in the fight of his life with cocaine. That announcement came 22 years ago.
Porter became the role model for rehabilitation and change. He spoke tirelessly to youth and religious groups on the evils of drugs. He wore his addiction in a public platform and acknowledged his weaknesses and failures. He then outlined his plan to beat the demons. And by all accounts, he won that battle.
But something that will never be explained hit Porter last December. For whatever reason, Darrell Porter slipped after 22 years of apparent sobriety from drugs. And that one minor mistake, that one step backward, was all it took to claim his life. It would take six months and hundreds of lies and hidden moments, but in the end, Porter became just another statistic in the war on drugs.
What's both amazing and frightening is that Porter was able to keep his relapse from his very closest friends and family members. Following his death, those who surrounded him for years were unified in their shock and amazement.
The lesson here is that some things are more powerful than mere mortal man can handle. Sure, we can fight the good fight but, as with Darrell Porter, sometimes by golly, that's just not enough. To hear his final words, Porter knew full well that he was unable to battle the demon from within.
This is less a story about drugs than it is a story about the frailties and limitations of man. God did not fail Darrell Porter and in so many ways, Porter didn't necessarily fail himself. He simply lost a fight to a more powerful foe. In his case, the foe was cocaine. It varies for each of us.
We can ask for help from above and ask that someone else help us through our tough times. But in the end, faith and strength and spirit sometimes are just not enough.
And sad to say, sometimes we just lose.