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Step Three

By Alberto Negron
In eLetter
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Step 3: We decided to turn our wills and our lives over to the care of God.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacri­fices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. – Romans 12:1

Decisions, decisions. Starting as soon as we get up in the morning, our lives are full of decisions. As Christians, we are familiar with decision making because we were invited to make a decision for Christ. Jesus was crucified, died and was buried, but then he was resurrected. We had to decide whether we believed that or not.

How many of us expected to be changed immediately upon believing? I understood the Christian life as a process, but I still expected God to do most of it for me. I thought I could pray my problems—at least most of them—away. I tried other things, to be sure, including serving in many capacities in the church (I have been everything from a janitor to a pastor). I’d mistaken works as something to obligate God to answer my prayers according to my will, not his.

Eventually, the tension between appearing Christian (doing Christian things publicly) and being Christian (becoming more like Jesus) began to wear me out and wear me down. My solutions to the problems of life were self-administered, and before long, my addiction rose. In addition to my primary addiction, I also began to binge drink. My irritability with family and life in general became more pronounced. I often wanted to die.

I needed to recover. Recover the promise of an abundant life and recover my ability to face the realities that would shape me into Christ’s image, which is God’s will for my life (Romans 8:29). First, I had to drop my safety net and take my first step. I admitted that I was powerless to become what God wanted me to be without his help (step one). Next, I had to believe that it would take someone with more power than I had—Jesus Christ—to restore me to right thinking (step two).

Which brings me to the current topic, and step three of the recovery process: our decision. But wait, hadn’t I already decided to believe? Yes, my decision to believe in Christ was an important and critical first step—a step without which no others would be possible. It was, however, just the first step in my Christian walk. I had turned my soul over, but I had kept my will and my life to myself. I was using the Christian way to make Al’s way a bit better. I needed to let God demolish the superstructure of my life without him and show me a totally new way to live.

In his book Twelve Step Christianity, Saul Selby states that, “Experiencing Christ in our lives is no guarantee we will submit to His will and purpose. Just as I can seek a doctor's advice and ignore the prescribed treatment, so I can experience Jesus in my life and ignore His directions. Once we experience Christ in a personal way, we are confronted with a critical question: Whom will I serve—Jesus or myself?”

This was a long, hard road. It seemed, at first, even harder than continuing the way I was going. I had to swallow a lot of pride and make many apologies. I had to learn how to be patient with myself, not just others. I had to create boundaries for myself and others to make sure that I was staying on track and not replacing God with something or someone else (again). Prayer, community, and worship—things I had been told for years were integral to Christian life—began to take on a new power and reality.

The amazing and marvelous thing though, is that God was with me the whole way. There were many trials and errors, but it was worth every scrape! The peace I have experienced as a result is the kind that the world could never give me, and the world can’t take away (John 14:27).

It might seem a shame to admit, but most people, me included, won’t change without pain. Handing our will and lives over to God’s care may seem scary, but going our own way is scarier. Our knowledge, strength and time are all finite, rendering us powerless in a wide range of situations. With God however, we can do difficult things (Philippians 4:13).

Can I share a prayer with you? It is called the Step Three Prayer:

“God, I offer myself to You—to build into me and do with me according to Your will. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Your will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Your Power, Your love, and Your way of life. May I do Your will always.”

Years ago, I was so busy trying to prove my Christianity that I poisoned my walk. I had to learn to let go and “just be held,”as the Casting Crowns song says. I’m still figuring out how to leave certain circumstances and people in God’s hands, and I know the lessons will just keep coming. But I’ll keep taking steps because our spiritual life is a walk, not a stand. I am not guarding a position, philosophy or the status quo. I am simply following Jesus as I learn to be me. Can we walk together?

For more information about Recovery at Irving Bible Church, go to irvingbible.org/recovery.

Check out Al’s reflections on Step One and Step Two on our blog.

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