Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ask for Directions!

Step Three

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

It was about 6 years into my recovery that I found myself praying this prayer on a fairly regular basis:

What does it look like to turn my will and my life over to the care of God right now - in this moment, in this situation, with this person?

I have found much solace and power in this prayer.  It has circumvented codependent rescuing when my loved ones have been in distress.  It has gotten me out of bed in the morning when I am overwhelmed with anxiety and depression.  It has given me the courage to face difficult situations.  It has reminded me that I can  survive making mistakes and even face the consequences of my actions.  It has helped me to live one day at a time, one moment at a time, and it has helped me to "accept, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it."

It reminds me that I do not have to have all the answers; I need only surrender now. It makes each step a step of faith rather than something I must do in my own power.

Proverbs 3, 14, and 16 and Step One helped us to understand that our way of doing things doesn't work, and continuing to do what we've always done will continue to get us the same results.  If you're not a fan of some aspect of the life you've created for yourself so far, well, I'm sorry, but that's all you really know how to do on your own.  It's all any of us know; we are all in the same boat.  There is no pride in Christianity.

We need a new way.

Step Two helped us to turn away from the old way of doing things (a chore in and of itself!) and to turn toward hope.  But turning in the right direction will not do us any good unless we start moving.

That is a rampant misunderstanding of repentance: Pastors often talk about the original meaning of the word "repent," and say that it is to simply "turn around."  They teach us to pray the sinner's prayer and send us on our way - right back down the path from which we came!  Yes, we must turn around and then we must go the other direction.  It doesn't magically happen and we can't do it on our own.

That was the discovery of my Third Step Prayer: I can ask for help.  I can ask for a new way!  I need to ask, in fact , fairly constantly and desperately, or I will simply go back to the way I've always known, like a knee-jerk reaction or slipping into auto-pilot on my drive home from work.  When we have traveled the same familiar path over and over again, we create a rut, and as soon as we aren't looking, our feet will slide right back down the embankment and resume that path without our even realizing it.

That is why repentance doesn't end with turning and why recovery doesn't end with Step 12.  Repentance is a lifestyle.  Recovery is a life-long journey.  This is what it means to
work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose
 (Phil 1:11-13).  If that sounds daunting or discouraging, well, I speak from experience when I say frankly, it is better to be traveling the path of salvation than it is to return to the path of destruction even for a moment, regardless as to how much work it ends up being in the end.  Salvation is free.  And it costs us everything.  But we gain life.

If we have truly come to grips with our powerlessness, and if there is a power greater than ourselves who will help us live, then we must ask for help.  Proverbs also taught us that wisdom, love, and faithfulness are not passive.  They will not land in your lap while you are sitting there day dreaming, feeling sorry for yourself, playing video games, or numbing out.  You have to ask.  You have to seek.  You have to knock.

For everyone who asks, receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks the door will be opened (Matt 7:7).

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you (James 1:5).

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart (Jer 29.13).

Yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God!  (Prov 2:3-5).

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