Retired Pastor Pat Duffin,
High Prairie Christian Centre
The reason for dwelling so long on the Third Step of Recovery is because it is foundational and therefore crucial to the long-term success of your Twelve Steps to Recovery.
It is the key to everything. If you do not grasp its significance your chances of a long-term recovery are greatly reduced because all the following steps right up to Step 12 are designed to help you follow through and mature in the decision you made in Step 3 – “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God…”
Now the early AA’s made a crucial mistake in making an amendment to reflect some of their natural beliefs and values. It was a good-hearted and well-intentioned error made so as to avoid excluding anyone who did not agree with them.
Their intention was to prevent unnecessary barriers to any AA’s recovery, while their hope was that many of those disbelievers would eventually come around to see the light.
In many ways that has indeed been the case. I, too, being one of them. The mistake was an error in truth. Truth does not care what you think or feel. It just is.
And the hard-to-swallow truth is, “when you turn your will over the care of God,” you turn over everything and it now becomes God on ‘His’ terms, not your terms.
Therefore, how we choose to understand Him becomes irrelevant. It is God who defines Himself – who He is, what He is, how He operates, what’s important to Him, what He requires of us.
I accept the premise that receiving God “as I understand Him” has to be the beginning point. Obviously, we all come to God mixed up, ignorant, confused, full of prejudices, misconceptions and wrong attitudes. By not clearly pointing this out, the Early AA’s accidentally provided a loophole which allows the ever-artful alcoholic to continue in self-delusion by choosing to believe in a higher power that suits themselves rather than who is based in reality.
However, those fortunate to have a spiritually mature sponsor or religious advisor quickly bypass this trap and are taught to understand the true claims of the Third Step and the God to whom they surrender.
Therefore, many do avoid being self-excluded from God’s Forever Family by errantly choosing the wrong God to serve and follow. Having the wrong King means having the wrong Kingdom. It’s the King that makes the Kingdom.
Had someone told me this earlier, perhaps I could have saved myself some time and trouble trying to have God on on my terms not His terms. After all, I was the epitome of self-will run riot. I would not have banged my head so hard or for so long on the barriers. I wanted God to bless my wants and requests, but God wants us all to yield and desire His gifts and blessings.
Filtered through His love, grace, mercy, knowledge, wisdom and kindness, His choices are so much better than what we could ever desire for ourselves.
And, to our surprise, Like the loving parent, He often delights in giving us our heart’s desire when it is needful, in our best interest, or “just because!” He loves to give good gifts.
I do strongly believe that an honest, sincere seeker, no matter how sincerely wrong, rebellious or argumentative they may be, if they will choose to submit and seek, will be led by God into the correct understanding by virtue of His mercy and compassion.
Again! We come to Him all mixed up. And He fixes us up as we yield our will and our lives for Him to work on us.
There is a prayer on page 63 of the Third Edition of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous which I strongly encourage you to pray. A very beautiful way to do this is with an AA friend or sponsor. For me, this was a powerful and life-giving way of breaking the power of my stubborn, rebellious pride which got in the way too many times.
Maybe you and your friend could even sincerely pray it together and then write the date down in your Big Book. You will want to remember this day, maybe even the time of day. For the rest of your life.
Following up on your decision you now need to whole-heartedly devote yourself to practicing and living the steps which are designed to help you follow through on your life-changing decision. It now becomes a lifestyle, not just a ritual that you do or talk about from time-to-time at the meetings.
Also, it would be a really great idea to introduce yourself to a pastor from a Bible believing church who is supportive of the 12 Step Program. They can help you understand and mentor you [pp. 11, 28, 49, 80, 292, and 417] on how to fulfill the rest of the 12 Steps – each of which are designed to bring you into a deep knowledge and understanding of this Higher Power into whose care you have committed yourself.
Having diligently enquired, searched and prayed about it all, you made your decision and have taken the step. Now you are now ready and empowered to move on to a richer, more wonderful life than you could ever have imagined.
My next column will be about the scary Step 4 and even scarier Step 5 we come face to face with our real ‘self’, admit the exact nature of our faults and wrongs come to terms with those realities and then confess those wrongs to another human being. Many fail to get past this point, but with God’s help, those who do discover great freedom and healing to follow.