“Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge.” Proverbs 23:12
The recovery basics are simple: ‘Trust God, clean house, help others.’ The Lord knows that only a simple formula will work for so many complex and complicated people. And we know that these instructions are tried and true because millions of recovering alcoholics have never found it necessary to have another drink.
Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured. These principles are the path from endurance to enjoyment. Just ask anyone who’s tried it.
“I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God; in him I will trust. Psalm 91:2
When we trust God as the source of all things needful, we have our priorities in order. Trace anything in our universe to its source, and there we invariably find, God.
Recovery is the journey home. It’s an addict’s path to God. And, like any important relationship, a relationship with our Lord requires an investment of time and energy. The greater the investment, the greater the return.
To build trust we take a small step towards Him with an offering of faith. We bring ourselves into His presence through our prayers. Jesus then moves towards us, in whatever ways we are open to receiving His goodness and mercy. Truly, when we ask for specific blessings, he seldom responds in the ways that we think he ought to, and yet He always responds with compassion and love.
When we do not understand His ways and works, He invites us to spend time with Him until we do understand. Seeking knowledge of His will through prayer, and meditating on Scripture brings us into safe harbour, under the protective wings of the Almighty. Our relationship with God gives us ballast, and puts wind in our sails for the journey of living life on life’s terms. Every day clean and sober is a miracle, no matter what happens.
“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
After the initial recovery thrill is gone, and the early relief of abstinence fades into a daily routine, we find we must learn new ways of living, or return to old habits. The skill set we so carefully honed to survive our years of substance abuse will not help us in recovery. Being dishonest and manipulative, with a profound distrust of others in isolation with our substance of choice, belongs in the past.
And so, if we want all that recovery has to offer, we begin ‘cleaning house’. Our house: both inner and outer. The blame thrower has to go. We learn the value of considering our part in our problems. Habitually blaming others for the conditions of our life kept us locked in a cycle of fear, pain, and denial. If there is no change, there is no change; the way out begins with willingness.
We grow into spiritual maturity as we hold ourselves accountable for the choices we make. We see others in recovery living the kind of life that we want, and learn to imitate their ways. As God determines our spiritual fitness, opportunities arise for us to correct the mistakes of the past. Pride, fear and rebellion are replaced with humility, faith, and obedience to God’s will.
The freedom recovery offers comes with responsibility. By accepting the gift of recovery, we also learn to accept the limitations that come with it. When living by spiritual principles becomes more important than self-gratification, we come to understand what recovery really means.
With persistence and dedication to this new way of life, we discover God’s awesome plan for each of us. As Jesus becomes the North star on our compass, His teachings illuminate the path to greater freedom from the bondage of self-obsession. Sobriety is a gift from God. The essence of this gift is the peace, the serenity that surpasses all understanding. From a life of chaos and destruction, we enter the life of the Spirit.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves.” Matthew 11:29
Whatever our chosen profession, however humble our livelihood, serving others as Jesus serves us, transforms our experiences from the mundane to the magical as we live each day with an attitude of gratitude. Ask anyone who is enjoying life in recovery how they came to find that happiness and they’ll tell you, “I let go, and let God.” We surrender what we think we know, and accept humility as the path to peace.
When troubles arise, as they always do, we trust that if God has brought us to it, He will bring us through it. We begin to notice how challenges are opportunities for growth. To live well in recovery there are no complex theories to understand, and there is nothing to figure out. Reading a library of self-help books will not bring about the change we need: only surrender will do. God doesn’t really want all of us, He just wants the 10% we haven’t given him, yet.
“…we have set our hope on the living God, who is the saviour of all, especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:10
Recovery is an inside job. Our lives improve because we no longer avoid responsibility. Living by spiritual principles such as honesty, open mindedness, and kindness to others and ourselves, bears the fruit of knowing real security within the safety of God’s love. We grow in faith. The results of our efforts are unmistakable. We become the person we’ve always wanted to be, and this feels good. We are a beacon to those who still struggle, both in and out of recovery.
With our new found integrity, we ask for God to reveal the ways in which we ought to be of service. Sharing our gift strengthens our recovery. Our life takes on new meaning.
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit;
to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as He wishes.” 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11
God does not ask us to have faith in our faith, He asks that we have faith in Him; and His promise is that when we do a few simple things on a daily basis, we can have as much sobriety and clean time as we want.
Through trusting God we find a strength not our own; by cleaning house we are relieved of the bondage of self; and by helping others we find happiness in a life of service. We exchange the living hell of active alcoholism and addiction for the great adventure of a life well-lived, under the care and guidance of the greatest Master who ever walked the Earth.
Our Lord, and the freedom recovery offers, no matter how long we’ve been abstinent, waits on the other side of a door that only we can open.
Maranatha. Peace be with you.
“Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing…” John 15:4-6