For most Christians, this is the “no brainer” step: of course there is a Power greater than me and His name is Jesus Christ, not “higher power.” But this is not the place to get hung up and bail out because of terminology. Believe me, the whole Higher Power thing rubbed me raw at first. I was even told by a member that I was being “divisive” by referring to Jesus Christ as my higher power. Then I realized that knowing Jesus and His name hadn’t helped me stay sober. My Bible knowledge and doctrinal purity had not kept me from continually ending up in a ditch. I decided to stick around the 12-step world and give it a try.
I actually think that the last part of the step became more important to me: “restore [me] to sanity.” I mean, what was more insane than the way I was living? I had a beautiful wife, great children, a church that I was involved in, a successful business, good health, and friends that loved me; and yet, here I was, fully addicted and destroying everything little by little. It was totally irrational and insane.
My life had come to resemble the description in Romans 1:28, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” Reprobate basically means rejected or “abandoned in sin; lost to virtue or grace.” I knew from the Bible that God would not eternally “leave me nor forsake me” but that He gave me up temporarily so that I could fully reap the consequences of my actions.
An insane man can’t be trusted to make good decisions. So I had to defer to the wisdom of the group; after all, most of them had more sobriety than I did and I wanted what they had. I recognized that there was a lot of insanity in my life and that I had to stop trusting my own plans and leaning on my own understanding.
When the prodigal son wanted to leave, his father “gave him over” and let him go. It wasn’t until the boy “came to himself” that he was ready to return to his father. In other words, he regained some of his sanity.
It is important to understand that God uses means to reach people, including His wayward children. “Reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” One of God’s means for me is to belong to a 12-step group and to hear and tell the raw truth about myself and who I had become.
We may have a lot of Christian knowledge, but knowledge without charity brings pride. And God resists the proud. To become sober, we don’t need God’s resistance, we need His grace. Don’t let pride hinder the means that God is using in your life to restore you to sanity.
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6).
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