Thoughts on Sanctification
|"This is my journey through recovery, showing how my Creator is using the the 12-Step Christian recovery model to give me relief from the behaviors that bring me pain." --Sid|
Jesus said (in John 15), 1-3 "I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn't bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
4"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me."
5-8"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples."
9-10"I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done—kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love."
11-15"I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father." (John 15:1-15 ) Quoted from "The Message" Bible.
"Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (Step 2)
My human tendency is to consider myself well-able to handle whatever life brings to me. I want to be in control, but when I consider the awesome power and goodness of God, I can't help but resonate with the Psalmist, when he said, "Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed." (Psalms 6:2 ).
It is a central paradox in the process of sanctification, that admission of powerlessness is key to receiving victory in Jesus. The apostle Paul said it this way: "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9,10 ).
My choice is plain and simple. I can continue to hold onto (wishful or imaginary) control of people and things, or I can admit my weakness, let go of my control issues, and allow God to work in me, and through me, to will and to do according to His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13 ). I need to consider the resultant stress-level of each of these choices. Shall I continue to fight for control, or would I rather let go and let God give me peace and joy?
"We admitted we were powerless over our problems, that our lives had become unmanageable." (Step 1)
"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" (Matthew 28:18-19 )
When I was a teenager, and well into my 20s, it was common for me to feel guilty for not distributing Christian literature or participating in other church functions that required me to witness to others. I've never been a great outside salesperson and it was frustrating to feel shamed for not participating in this type of activity. It seemed like I was being told that it was my duty to do these things. But it was drudgery for me.
Looking back to those days, from where I am today, I understand better why it was such drudgery. I was trying to do witnessing when I hadn't even come to the realization that I was powerless over my problems.
Today however, having had a spiritual awakening, I am grateful to realize that an integral part of my recovery process is in witnessing to others what great things God does in my life, as I choose to cooperate (trust and obey) with His loving leading.
I can now appreciate what the apostle John said: "they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony..." (Revelation 12:11 )
I could not overcome, if it were not for Jesus and His infinite sacrifice for me, and His total willingness to save me from my sins. Out of love and gratitude for all He does for me, I now feel compelled to testify to others of God's amazing grace. And not only that, but as I consider all those I have harmed in the past, it makes me all the more determined to do all that I can to help as many as possible now and in the future. And not only that, but by the word of my testimony I become less and less likely to re-enter my past harmful behaviors.
That is why I strive to bring these messages of hope to the hurting and why I choose, through the power of God, to practice these Gospel principles in all that I do -- trusting that my loving Higher Power will be with me always, "even unto the end of the world. Amen."
"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." (Step 12)
"Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God." (Psalms 84:5-7 )
Life is a journey. Sometimes we have mountaintop experiences and other times, we are in the valley of despair. But I've found that through it all, as I choose to trust in God, that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28 ). It's great to have the mountaintop experiences, but it's in times of trouble that I lean on Him most heavily. It's in times of trouble that I see Him working most in my life to bring me to a better place. And it's in trusting and obeying Him in those hard times that helps to build my character to become more like Jesus.
"For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee." (Psalms 84:10-12 )
Sometimes God's blessings are disguised as trouble and trials, but He is always close by, providing a shield to protect us against more than we can handle (1 Cor 10:13 ). As a result, we come out of trouble a better person than before. Even though I often don't understand now, I believe that I would not choose to be led by God any differently than He leads me now, if I could see the end from the beginning, as He does.
"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." (Step 11)
As I continue to take a daily personal inventory of myself, I first consider my relationship with God. Am I still yielding my will to His? Do I still trust Him enough to surrender my self to Him in the moment of temptation?
Then I must consider my human relationships. Is there anyone whom I have wronged that I've not made amends to? If so, not only do I need to pursue the making of amends, but it's also helpful to try to identify why I did that. Are my basic needs, as a human being not being met?
The book, "Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery" identifies five components (starting on page 67) of this ongoing recovery process:
1) Are my basic human need for love, acceptance, and security being met? And do I even recognize those needs?
2) What are my feelings? Am I hiding feelings of grief that need to be expressed? Am I having feelings of rejection? I especially need to watch for feelings of resentment because "resentment covers anger, anger covers hurt, hurt usually covers fear, and ... the deepest fear is that our basic human needs are not going to be met."
3) Am I using any codependent and/or addictive means of trying to get my needs met? Am I manipulative or over controlling? Am I perfectionistic or compulsive? Am I playing the martyr or the victim in sick relationships? Am I trying to "rescue" or enable other people's sick behaviors? If I'm doing any of these, I need to consider what personal needs am I trying to meet by these bogus means.
4) Am I holding appropriate boundaries and am I respecting the boundaries of others? There is a delicate line between being too rigid and keeping people out when needed. It's also a delicate line between being too fragile and letting people into my life as needed. Can I say yes when I should say yes, and say no when I should say no? And, do I respect other's yeses and noes regarding their boundaries? If I've violated boundaries, I need to make amends, where possible.
5) Do I admit my wrongs promptly? If not, the temptation is to rationalize my wrongs. If I do that, these may become resentments against others which will likely sabotage my recovery.
"Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it." (Step 10)
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