walk by faith

I had an opportunity to visit with my pastor yesterday morning.¬† The conversation was casual, centering on a number of concerns regarding theology.¬† I refer to myself as the “doubting Thomas” syndrome.¬† If I can’t see the nail holes and the wound in the side, I tend not to believe.¬† Maybe that’s why people sometimes see me as cynical and wishy-washy.¬† I need proof before I get off the fence to make a commitment.¬† In some areas of secular life this is a good thing, but in my faith walk it is not always the best path. ¬†CANDLE

I invariably reach a point when the way forward is a confident step into the world of faith in that which is mysterious and unknown.  Given the evidence which life has accumulated for me proving that God exists and that Jesus loves me, that step should not be as difficult as it sometimes is.   My miraculous ongoing recovery from alcoholism is one such piece of the evidence that a Higher Power has the answers to all questions and the grace to lead me to green pastures and still waters.

The PROMISES of the Alcoholics Anonymous program are no longer extravagant dreams; they are happening in my life and in the lives of others in the fellowship.¬† I am in dire financial straits according to the norms of society, yet I don’t fear the future.¬† I am an introvert by nature yet find myself comfortable in a room full of people even to the point of speaking to the group.¬† Today I follow a God who is doing for me what I could not do for myself.¬† In the beginning these were indeed nothing more than extravagant promises which required an enormous amount of faith in what was unknown.¬† But, they were proven occurrences in my fellow AAers; I walked with them holding a faith that I also was worthy of these promises.

So it should be with my church affiliation.  The promise that goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, that when I seek then I shall also find, that when I knock then the door shall be opened, that the Lord will give rest to my weary and burdened soul is a promise which I embrace with faith.  With faith as small as a mustard seed mountains can be moved.

“If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” Matthew 17:20

It’s not rocket science, doesn’t require an impressive intelligence to realize that walking by faith in that which is a mystery, that loving a God which is unseen, that following a Jesus who was crucified cannot be measured by the world’s standards.¬† The things of this world repeatedly have disappointed and caused pain and will continue to do so.¬† Therefore, why follow the world when a mustard seed of faith will deliver unfathomable joy and peace?¬† It’s one of the best investments I could possibly make.

In the end, if I have been wrong, if my faith is erroneously placed, if eternity with Jesus is not awaiting, if my final breath is indeed the last of me….no one will know the difference, least of all me.¬† But, I will have spent this life living joyously in peace and absolute awe of a power greater than myself.smiley 3 Namaste.

 

sobriety’s promises

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1. If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
2. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
3. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
4. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
6. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
8. Self-seeking will slip away.
9. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

Alcoholics Anonymous p83-84
Reprinted from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.

When a volunteer reader recites the promises of Alcoholics Anonymous and reaches the last sentence, “They will always materialize if we work for them,” the group often responds with, “work, work, work.”

Therein is the secret to a successful recovery: work, work, work.¬† For us to undertake the work of the AA program with courage, determination, and dedication is¬† beyond anything we have previously attempted.¬† It is a life-changing, challenging endeavor which requires total commitment.¬† “Half measures availed us nothing.”

There are no compromises.  The promises listed above are realized when we are willing to say yes to a Higher Power, when we are willing to listen to long-term sobriety speaking, when we are willing to work our butts off to reach a state of clean and serene.   It works if we work it.  Alcoholics Anonymous is a very simple program to understand, but, for most of us, it is the most difficult  thing we have ever done.

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THE AA PROMISES

Many of us who have based¬†our sobriety on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous came to the meeting rooms with severe doubts about a program which told us to give up the control factor in our lives and turn it over to an entity named God.¬† We had heard too much about this God as youngsters in the clutches of God-fearing parents and hell-preaching clergy.¬† We, for the most part, gave up entirely on the concept of a God.¬† Our mantra to parents and clergy alike was “If you’re going to heaven then I sure as hell don’t want to be there.”

Thereby we resigned ourselves to a life without god in the grips of alcoholism.  We drank our selves into oblivion whenever we could and suffered through endless hours of non-drinking when  our first love in life was unavailable.  Some of us maintained a semblance of normalcy for a while, but in the end there was nothing normal about the way we lived.  Self-loathing, lying, infidelity, cheating, suicide attempts, and broken promises finally crashed us to the depths of our personal hells.

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And then, a helping hand reached out and suggested an AA meeting.

“Are you crazy,”¬†we asked sarcastically.

“Maybe, but, I’m sober,” was the helping hand’s reply.¬† “And you can be sober, too.”

For the first time in many years we saw hope, a sparkle in our friend’s eyes that encouraged us to think,¬† “Maybe this sobriety thing is not so bad, I have nothing to lose.”

Thus begins many stories from the sharing members of AA who sit back in their chairs and take us with them to the pits of their personal hells.  We cry with them, we chuckle over stupid things they did, we feel a growing bond with their life story.  In the end we know we are all one, a brotherhood/sisterhood of lost souls who rediscovered life through the loving compassion shared by members of Alcoholics Anonymous.  We found a God who loved us unconditionally, who did not condemn, who promised to lead us to productive lives living soberly.

We listen intently, nodding in agreement as a reader shares the promises from the Big Book:

1. If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
2. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
3. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
4. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
6. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
8. Self-seeking will slip away.
9. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

Alcoholics Anonymous p83-84
Reprinted from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.

The Alcoholics Anonymous miracle is an unmerited, undeserved gift of the God whom we bow before as our Higher Power.¬†¬†This gift ¬†is not aligned with any religion or theology; it embraces all faiths, all genders, all orientations, all races.¬† It’s principles could be the foundation of a new world in which:

“Wisdom is knowing we are all one.¬† Love is what it feels like, and Compassion is what it acts like.”¬† Ethan Walker 3rd, “The Mystic Christ”

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