High Prairie Christian Centre
Having fully committed ourselves to the 12 Steps Recovery Program, we courageously confronted ourselves over the harm we have brought upon ourselves and others [Step 4].
Then we bared the inner depths of our souls to God, and to another human being, through Step 5. In doing this we have overcome the two most painful and difficult hurdles in the recovery process. We climbed the mountain that few even dare to attempt.
Step 5 was the watershed.
From this point forward the journey gets increasingly rich, pleasurable, and exciting.
Until this moment we reluctantly did what we had to do for survival.
We mustered the necessary courage through the testimony and support of those who had gone before.
We recognized we had but two alternatives: “One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help. This we did because we honestly wanted to and were willing to make the effort” [page 25, The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition] But now we enthusiastically embrace the new lifestyle because we want it. Transformation is tangibly happening right before our very eyes and those around us can see it, too.
From here forward, the heavy labour gets considerably lighter. We have experienced several “deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellow humanity and toward God’s universe.
The central fact of our lives today has become the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has already accomplished things for us which we could never have done for ourselves.” [page 25] We know for a certainty that God will be with us all the way.
We become “entirely ready to have God remove all those defects of character” [Step 6] that we discovered in our searching and fearless moral inventory.
So, we “humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.” [Step 7]
The key thing to notice here is that we are no longer relying on our own power to make change. We have fully realized that we are powerless and have no ability to effect lasting change on our own. It has become a natural and simple thing to ask for and accept God’s help.
True! We have switched from one form of dependence, the power of self, alcohol, and other foolish things, to the power of God.
The reality is we are all weak, fallen, and broken people. We are all wounded in one way or another. Only God is perfect. Only God can help us.
Therefore, dependence on God is a good thing. Relying on God is life-giving and life-transforming. This new reliance makes us better people and the quality of our lives increases exponentially.
Step 6 and Step 7 are the logical outflow from Step 4 and Step 5. Compared to the heavy labour of the first five steps, these steps are light and refreshing.
Thus, it is important to note the wisdom in the wording of these steps.
We become ready.
The transformative power of these steps is not instantaneous. It is a process. We learn nothing if God simply zaps us into being what He originally intended.
The process is essential to change, to learning, and to acquiring happiness.
Those of us who choose to rely on God for our help come into process and, so long as we remain on the path, we will always be in process.
None of us has ‘arrived’.
We can only claim ‘spiritual progress’ rather than ‘spiritual perfection’.
The 12 Steps of Recovery are designed to help us in our perpetual journey of spiritual growth. The Bible tells us that God will ultimately change us into spiritual perfection at the culmination of all things. He will do it, not we ourselves. [Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58)]
So, until then, we never let our guard down.
After we have completed the 12 Steps of Recovery, we continue practicing the steps for the rest of our lives. The truth is, if we do not continue to grow, we begin to slide back and regress.
As spiritual pilgrims there is no such thing as resting on our laurels or keeping a “steady state” of existence.
Our gift from God is a daily reprieve contingent on the active maintenance of our spiritual condition.
“We must carry the vision of “God’s will into all our activities, every day from now and forever.” [page 85)
“Our liquor or other maladaptive behaviour is only a symptom. We need to take care of the causes and conditions.” [page 64)
“As we continue working the steps, we address the spiritual malady and we straighten out mentally and physically as well.” [page 64]
“Through our spiritual encounters we discover God’s Spirit is flowing into us and providing the strength, vision, direction, and practical help we need to heal and grow.” [page 85]
With Christ as the ‘captain’ of our ship we experience a new serenity and clarity about who we are, our purpose, and our destiny.
After asking God’s help to remove our character defects we are ready to face the challenge of righting some of the wrongs we have done.
We need to make amends to those we have hurt. That will be the topic for the next column.
Next week: Lay Minister Joseph L’Heureux writes the Inspiration column for South Peace News.