the difference between me and most people in 12 step recovery programs

1 samuel 7: 3-4

3 And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.

People were designed to worship God. That is the purpose for our existance. We yearn to passionately serve and reverently look up to a higher power. We were designed to want to be significant; great- to live a life of purpose. We were made to have passion and to fill our hearts up with the joy of the Lord. Sadly, in our fallen world so many people do not know the truth. They live imprisoned in the effects of sin- depression, addictions, worry, anger. They have deep holes in their hearts that were made to be filled with the Hope and Joy of the Holy Spirit. Because they choose not to fill their voids with God, they turn to other means to fill these holes. In a sense, these things become their gods, because they fill the place that God is supposed to have. When we come to the Lord we are called to get rid of these gods and to begin to serve and worship only the living God. We cannot serve both our idols and God… we have to make a choice… God is a jealous God and wants our whole heart… only when He fills us can live in joy and peace. We begin to see that all of those other idols are meaningless- whether positive or negative according to the views of the Lord. Serving God is the only thing that matters.

The idols that the world serve vary in their appropriateness in the eyes of the world… Some idols are looked upon as ok to live for- or even normal and positive. Some of these are things like sports, fitness, friends, music, and even “social eating”. Other idols are looked down upon by society as they can harm the worshipper or those around the worshipper in some way- overuse of food, drug abuse ect… When a person gets hooked on serving one of these gods they often wake up one day and realize that they are destroying their lives and the lives of those whom they love. In a frantic depressed state they seek out help to get out of their self-destructive life-style. There are many programs and therapies out there to help people who have somehow chosen the wrong god to worship and then gotten entangeled in a painful life because of it. Without God, many of these people despairingly find, it is near impossible to “recover”… and really what is the motivation… to find a happy but meaningless relationship? to be able to function at a job and make money to… spend on worthless meaningless things? When these people are strong enough to get out of these lifestyles, they still have the need to worship something… to fill those voids that have been once again freed up in their hearts… so they have to find something else to fill it with. They can turn to a more appropriate, less destructive passion to fill their heart… but nothing can fill the deepest voids of our heart. nothing except a relationship with our creator.

The 12 step model of recovery is used by countless people to recover from various addictions. The aspect that sets these programs apart and leads to such success in recovery is that the sufferer must look to a power great than themselves for healing… it doesn’t necessarily have to be God, but I believe that the founders of the program did look to the True God for their recoveries so the program is rooted in Christian principles.

Because it is so rooted finding God, so many desparate people who have hit a “rock bottom” in their lives come through the doors of programs such as NA, OA, AA seeking recovery. When they quickly learn through program literature that they need God’s help if they hope to successfully recover, they then begin searching for God as a tool for help. They think of God like a magic power… “maybe if I found God… then I’d do better”… they are curious but feel that others find God, but they can’t.

Yesterday I attended an overeaters anonymous meeting. We in chairs that circled the room and read from the book that explained the 12 steps. One of the paragraphs read aloud by a woman really struck me as it made me realize that I have a different calling as a Christian than most of the other women who struggled with food addictions.
The paragraph in the book says:
“At this point most of us had trouble for one reason or another with step two. Some of us did not believe in AGod. We despaired of finding a solution to our problems if that meant we ahd to “find God.” Some of us walked out of our first meeting when we heard that three-letter word mentioned and didn’t return until years more of compulsive eating had made us desperate. Those of us who stuck around made a wonderful discovery. OA doesn’t tell us we have to believe in God- only that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. We are invited to define that power however we wish and relate to it in whatever way works for us. OA only suggests that we remain open to spiritual growth and show tolerance for others by neither criticizing nor promoting specific religious doctirines in OA meetings”

I realize that most people who step foot into the overeaters anonymous program hope to recover from their compulsive eating that is destroying their life… and they realize that a higher power is the best way to this… they are powerless… that is the 1st step of the program… realizing your powerlessness over your addiction. They make up a convenient god as a tool or a stepping stone to removing their idol of food… but in reality- it is just removing one God and transplaniting another meaningless god… it might not be destructive, but it still is meaningless.

As a Christian, that very power that I am trusting to restore me to sanity, is the one for whom I am healing. I realize that I want to serve my higher power- my Creator with all of my heart, and my addiction is standing in the way… As I choose to give my whole heart to the Lord- He delivers me… I fill my void with Him- the one who it was meant for. When we give our everything to Him-only then will we find true peace and joy and meaning- the things we long for. In many ways I have a higher calling as my Maker’s child… I hope to somehow share my message of truth with other people who fill that void for God with other gods. The message of the TRUTH that is the only thing that can set the world free and give them meaning, peace , truth, hope… the only thing that can truly entangle them from the bondage of their idols.
If we want true deliverance, as Samuel said, we have to serve Him only.
Whether or not we serve seemingly harmful or seemingly harmless gods we must put aside our Baals and Ashtoreths and serve only God.

It is a choice.

We must serve Him and praise Him before the “gods”.
Psalm 138:1
1 I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;
before the “gods” I will sing your praise.

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