by ProfDave, Holiness in 12 Steps, ©2021
(Oct. 12, 2021) — Have you come to the place in your life where you are ready to put yourself entirely in the hands of Your God? Perhaps you have tried to break a habit, get over a hang-up or put a band-aid on an old festering wound. Perhaps you have recognized that you cannot measure up to your own standards, much less God’s. You have asked God to help you fix yourself or zap you perfect, but it doesn’t work like that. Are you ready for Him to not just help you fix yourself up, but to take over the whole show?
Step Six: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. James 4:10: Humble yourselves before he Lord, and he will lift you up.
In the first three steps of the Twelve Step process, we come to recognize that we have a problem in our lives that we can’t solve, we come to hope in The Higher Power, and we put it into His hands. In steps four and five, we take a good look within ourselves and strip away all our secrets. “Our lives and wills” have been laid bare to ourselves, to God, and to someone we trust. Now the decision, the commitment of step three, must be renewed at a much deeper level – only reached by this process. Are you entirely ready to voluntarily submit? To “humble yourself before the Lord?” Nobody is twisting your arm. You can still scoop up your broken self into the basket of your denial and walk away with it. Or you can volunteer for grace.
Are you “ready to have God remove all these defects?” Often we discover things about ourselves we didn’t realize before. The issue that drove us at last to our knees is not an isolated exception, a foreign body in our psyche. The rash is skin deep, but the disease goes to the bone. Reparative surgery is needed, not just removing the bullet.
The first time I worked this step I recognized that my “habit” was an expression of a deeper “hang-up” – an unhealthy mechanism for licking my wounds and hiding from something else. The second time through, I began to identify more clearly the threats and hurts I was hiding from. The next time I am beginning to see another character defect that needs to be removed: the self-righteous pride that made me so vulnerable. Personal growth is like peeling an onion: one layer after another and sometimes you cry.
“Remove all these defects of character.” The Twelve do not ask us to “just quit” by our own grit and determination. We have already tried that. Being ready does not mean being able – without Him. I wanted to be pure as the riven snow as a feather in my own self-righteous cap. No deal. Pride is a cardinal sin, worse, in His eyes, than any addiction. Do not expect God’s help in doing it yourself.
That’s not how we were meant to live, but that’s another topic.
“All.” Not just the issue that’s most embarrassing. Perhaps the co-dependency we aren’t really aware of yet. Not just part of the problem. The alcoholic who wants to drink socially, the sex addict who still wants to look, the food addict who wants to make an exception for the holidays – they aren’t ready for Step Six.
“Voluntarily submit to every change.” Step Six addresses the submission. We put not just our “issue” but our character in God’s hands. Our individual misdeeds and sins are only symptoms of a deeper brokenness.
There comes a point in the life of every Christian when we are invited to go deeper. We have been forgiven. Jesus has become our Savior – part of our lives – but not really our Lord. The Holy Spirit is resident, so to speak, but not president. He is not all our lives. In the words of an old hymn –
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest
And have peace and sweet rest
As you yield Him your body and soul.
(Elisha A Hoffman)
The character surgery we need requires us to sign the release and lay down on the table. How about it? Are you ready to surrender? Are you ready for sanctification? Are you ready for step six?