by ProfDave, ©2021
(Oct. 26, 2021) — There is One Power who can do for you what you cannot do for yourself – One who has power to raise the dead – and what is dead in you. But you need to humbly ask.
One thing that someone with a serious trauma, a vexing hang-up or an addiction of any kind has in common with a Jesus-follower is a second turning point in their path to wholeness. The first turning point is the recognition of a problem too big for self-help (Step One). It might be a behavior just too imbedded to change or a besetting sin than separates us from God and from others. We turn over our lives and wills to our Higher Power with reference to this issue, find forgiveness and begin to find some relief (Step Three). But as our self-examination matures (Step Four), we see that our problem is not one isolated “sin” but part of a complex – a brokenness of our nature of which our presenting problem is only one symptom. Are you entirely ready (Step Six) to surrender – to put your whole self into the hands of the Great Physician? If you are, then you are ready for Step Seven.
Step Seven: We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings. I John 1;9: “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
“We humbly asked Him.” Recovery is not a self-help, do-it-yourself project. God could do it any day all by Himself, but He likes to have us ask. He wants partners, not robots. In Step Six, He revealed to us at least one serious underlying issue in our character. Now is the time to recognize it and lay it before His throne. “Yes, Lord, you are right. Turtle pride is the flaw in my character that made me fear real people and led me to escape and withdraw into my addiction. What is your prescription? I will take it.”
Jesus asked the man who had been bed-ridden for thirty-eight years, “Do you want to be well?” Some of us have been crippled for longer than that! Do we want to give it up? “That’s just the way I am,” we say, or “it’s the way I cope.” So we get comfortable in our dysfunction. Do you want to be well? “Pick up your mat and walk!”
“OK, Lord, take it away. It has caused me nothing but pain. Yes, Lord, yes to your will and to your way – in my character. Yesss!”
“To purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). The operational challenge of this step is to discern what character defect God wishes to address first and write an action plan of practical steps we – God and us – need to take. The rub is that this must be God’s plan, not just my ideas. Ooops! Think I’m going to have to do this one over – His way.
Recovery is not a quick fix. Nor is it a miserable stagnation. It is one-day-at-a-time cooperation between weak and fallible us and the Great Physician. Sometimes it is two steps forward and one step back. But it is intentional on both sides. I am asking God to help me stop thinking some things and start thinking others. As God changes my attitude and I change my intentions, my character begins to change. One small step at a time.
“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires” (Matthew 5:6). The way of Christian holiness, as with Christian rebirth, is by asking in faith. The nature of God is not the co-dependent enabling of evil, but redemption: buying back, transforming, healing what is broken. What Christ purchased on the cross was not mere forgiveness, but real-time restoration. The power is not ours, but His. At the same time, miracles take place as we make Him our greatest desire. Step by step. This is normal Christian life and the normal recovery process. Stop growing and you start shrinking.
David W. Heughins (“ProfDave”) is Adjunct Professor of History at Nazarene Bible College. He holds a BA from Eastern Nazarene College and a PhD in history from the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Holiness in 12 Steps (2020). He is a Vietnam veteran and is retired, living with his daughter and three grandchildren in Connecticut.