Ephesians 5:14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
I am writing an addendum to my first article on this subject because I do not feel the Lord has released me from speaking.
Today I saw a man whom I have been mentoring for several years. He was released from prison and he came by to see me. I began asking him what his plan was as far as working a program and he really had none. When I questioned him about attending church he was non committed. When I asked him about attending AA or NA or Celebrate Recovery he acted as if he had seen the ghost of Christmas past.18 months he was gone and he barely escaped a much longer sentence.
After he left I started doing some thinking still having much to say about my previous article I was impressed to do a little math. 18 months…….lets see? 24 hours x 7 = 168. Multiply that times 4 (weeks) = 672. Now multiply that x 18 = 12,096 hours away from home. Now, lets multiply that times lost income at just 1000.00 a month that’s 18,000.00 dollars in lost income. Now add the 4,000.00 dollars in restitution, thousands of dollars in back child support and for all you lucky bonus shoppers you now have a felony record which equals more lost income. BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TIME FOR AN AA MEETING OR A 12 STEP GROUP OR A BIBLE STUDY? Now that is insane but that is the blindness of addiction and alcoholism!
I was once there. I had an Aunt who was the closest thing I had to a grandmother on my mother’s side and she constantly grilled me about working a program…….oh how I fought her. Until I was finally defeated and sitting in a prison cell looking at a life sentence and suddenly I realized I needed help and I had no one to turn to but God and the 12 steps.
I have been a student of the scriptures for years and as I opened up my heart to the steps of AA I found principles for living that were clearly outlined in the Bible. They were worded differently but nonetheless the truth of God’s Word was as plain to me as was my need for a vehicle to get from point A to point B to point C. That is exactly what the steps offered me. Now I am not an AA guru and there are somethings that are said and done in those rooms that do not necessarily jive with my faith but I heard a long time ago a saying which has stuck with me for years; "any ol’ cow knows enough to chew up the grass and spit out the sticks." I heard enough to know that the program and its participants had something collectively that I did not and it was a better way to live. I was out of control and my life was unmanageable. Today I am happily married, I own a business and I pastor a church. My kids are all doing well and life is good and I know beyond a shadow of doubt that when my life starts to get overwhelming I have tools I can return to and by employing those principles I keep myself from returning to the slavery of my former obsessions. God keeps me as I seek Him, one day at a time, one STEP at a time.
Why 12 steps? I don’t know. Why 12 months in the year? Why is the New Jerusalem built on 12 pillars or why does it have 12 gates or why did Jesus choose 12 disciples to follow Him? Why 12 tribes of Israel? Because God ordained these things for our freedom and when we follow God He makes His will and way known and when we walk with God we have to take steps toward Him and 12 is as good a number as any other if we walk in the right direction. Every single one of those principles is life and life more abundantly. The number 12 is found 187 times in God’s Word and it represents completion and wholeness. It is the foundation of God’s government so why not 12 steps in the midst of all that? Seems pretty plain right?
Still, in 8 years of doing aftercare and three years pastoring a church we started in our living room, I see such resistance to common sense and reason that I can only attribute that resistance to spiritual blindness. It is sad that we have to be broken and totally defeated before we realize there is help and hope but then again, I suppose that is what most glorifies God because it then becomes very clear that no one else can reach us when we are so stiff necked and stubbornly locked into our sins?
Please, if your reading this and you have struggled with compulsive obsession, you can be free and I want you to know its as easy as the first step……after the next step after the next step. Life is a gift and you can recover and its not worth killing yourself over or doing another day in jail. Spend an hour in church, go to a meeting and as you do I promise you that your recovery will never require of you what your sins or the devil has asked you to give up in order to serve your flesh. God is so very merciful and the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Love in Christ…..Pastor Jim.