“I gave you a land which you had not tilled and cities which you had not built to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant. Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve him completely and sincerely.” Joshua 24:13-14
Becoming ‘entirely’ ready (to have God remove our defects of character), is similar to ‘rigorous’ honesty, or ‘true’ love. There’s not really a need for an adverb or adjective to describe ‘ready’, ‘honest’, or ‘love; we’re either ready or not; honest or dishonest; in love or, not really. We know. And yet when we’re entirely ready, rigorously honest, or truly in love, it’s an enhanced state. It’s more intense; ’up’-levelled.
In Step Six we are asked to be more than just ready. It’s ‘ready’ with no back door. We want to be ready: to get on with it, to move into tomorrow with a sense of urgency. We want what comes next: for God to remove our defects, and could He just get on with it, please? And yet God makes it clear that what He wants is for us to slow down, and notice the benefit of an enhanced state of readiness.
He wants us fully prepared to receive His grace. When we allow ourselves to really feel the pain, the grief, the discomfort of change, we soften in the process; we offer less resistance to the awareness of His presence in our hearts. Only when our defences are exhausted, do we become ready to let God do for us, what we cannot do for ourselves.
“I dwell in a high and holy place, but also with the contrite and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, to revive the heart of the crushed.” Isaiah 57:15
It’s been said in the rooms of recovery, “God doesn’t want all of you. He just wants the 10% you haven’t given him yet.” We want the liberation, the security, the love that can only come from God; we crave it, long for it, plead for it. Yet we insist on dictating the terms of the negotiation. God wants to bless us with the freedom that comes when our defects are removed, but we cling to the self-importance that prevents it.
Much of the pain we want to avoid is self inflicted. Not only do we suffer by our defects of character, our suffering is increased by the need to be at the end of our proverbial rope, before we give up control.
For folks in recovery, the problem is not intellect, desire, ‘stick-to-it-iveness’, or ability. The problem is that we want to convince God that He should come around to our way of thinking. It is this tug of war, the struggle with control, the attitude of ‘my way or the highway’, which puts the recovering addict on the slippery slope leading to relapse, and often death.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.” Matt 16:24
It was our complete surrender that opened the door to recovery. We relinquished control; God’s divine intervention removed our obsession and compulsion for chronic substance abuse. As the miracle of sobriety unfolded, we came to believe that God could and would restore us to sanity. Our growing faith and the willingness to turn our will and lives over to His care, helped us with our living problems.
Our searching and fearless moral inventory made it clear that we could now choose to put down the emotional baggage caused by the anger and resentments we’d been holding onto. When we admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs, we took a chance that it might be OK to trust one or two people: a radical departure from how we lived for so long.
Today life is better than it’s ever been, and more freedom lies ahead. Like every great adventure, there are places along the way that test our commitment. Do we want to turn back now? Or are we all in? Step Six is a crossroads.
We say we want the more freedom, and then we haggle over the price. Surrender is the key, but the landscape looks so much better than when we first began, that we sit on the fence of indecision and ask ourselves if the risk will be worth the reward.
The good news is that God understands how we’re always looking for the angle, the work-around, the short-cut that gets us to where He can just go ahead and work His miracles. And so He waits until we are entirely ready. There are no short cuts, and the only way out is through.
“If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth,
there no longer remains sacrifice for sins.” Hebrews 10:26
Why not just surrender to win? All that we are, and all that we do, belongs to God, anyway. Recovery is an inside job. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Trying to recover alone has always been a dead end street. Today, maybe for the first time, we see the sign.
Becoming ‘entirely ready’ offers us an exit strategy. We get out of our own way, and take a chance on this new way of living that is working for countless others. A good life in recovery is a partnership between the recovering addict, and God. When we give our best, we open ourselves to unimaginable blessings.
Taking suggestions from those who have gone before us pays off. We have lots of evidence, if we know where to look, that God keeps His word, and will come through for us when we do our part, and leave the results to Him. The best is yet to come.
“…God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. So submit yourselves to God…”
top: Priscilla du Preez at Unsplash
bottom: Ludomil Sawicki at Unsplash