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|
I was very good at isolating myself from everyone. I lived in a world of fantasy. There was no way I would tell anyone about my secret life, and I minimized my own perception of my thoughts and behaviors.
But, in 1994 I was hitting bottom. I had sunk so low that I was in serious need of positive change in my life. It was in June that I discovered the keys to victory over my 25-year addiction (surrender to God, after realizing my own powerlessness and learning to trust God). The very next day after my first victory, I began to realize my great depravity. As a result of this introspective process, I was convicted that I needed to come out of my isolation and tell some human being my story. This was the greatest challenge of my life.
I had admitted these things to myself and to God, but the thought of disclosing my secret life to another person was excruciatingly painful. It was because of my desire for recovery and because of a great conviction from God, that I chose someone and began my confession. My words came very slowly. The whole process took hours. But this was the beginning of the end of my isolation. As I disclosed my issues, it was as if a heavy weight was being lifted from my heart. This was a vital step which helped release me from the bondage of the previous 25 years.
As I look back now, I can see that this was one of the best decisions in my life. My dirty secrets were no longer secret. I began to become accountable for my sins. By God's grace, I no longer live in isolation. And, even though my past is not forgotten, by God's amazing grace, it is forgiven. I thank God and praise Him for this ancient tradition of confession.
"If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:6-9 ). "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16 ).
"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." (Step 5)
As I read, once again, the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32 ), the phrase "when he came to himself" (Luke 15:17 ) seemed to pop out at me, in the context of introspection. As a result of his riotous living, this young man was in dire straits, not even knowing where his next meal would come from. It wasn't until he hit "bottom" that "he came to himself", taking "a searching and fearless moral inventory" of his life.
I wonder why it is that we often wait until disaster strikes before we finally take a deep, introspective look at our lives. For me, I think it was fear -- fear of how hard it might be to see the truth -- fear of the consequences of confession. As my recovery began in 1994, like the prodigal son, It wasn't until things got really bad that I began to take an honest inventory of my sinful life. I wish now that I had taken this step much sooner. Today, it's a daily process for me, because I don't ever want to go back to where I was.
The good news is that, just like the prodigal son, I always find the compassion, love and forgiveness of the Father, when I confess. More about confession...
"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (Step 4)
In a practical sense, what does it mean to give it all up to God? Well, God has made (and continues to make) some positive changes in my life. And, I'm pretty sure that He's been able to do that partially because of my participation in this process. Of course, I can't take credit for that, because without help from Him, I wouldn't be able to make positive choices. Right now, I'm thinking of two ways in which I strive (by God's grace and power) to give my will and life to God. The first is directly initiated by God. The second is when I seek help from Him.
It has been said that God is always sending messages to those who will listen to His "still, small voice". These impressions come throughout the day for many different reasons. It could happen as I'm driving, to alert me of danger. It could happen when I am tempted to wrong thoughts, words, or actions. It could happen at anytime, and for any reason. When I listen for His impressions on my heart, then choose to obey, I'm giving up my agenda for God's. In so doing, He gives me strength to follow through on that decision. He cares about me. He wants to help me make good decisions.
There are other times when I don't know what God will is, like when I have hard decisions to make. It maybe in my work, when I can't seem to figure something out. Or, it may be in my personal life. In times like this, I find myself in prayer asking for wisdom, claiming His promises, like this one: "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind." (James 1:5-6 ). But the question I most often ask God is "Lord, what would you have me to do?" (Acts 9:6 ). The answer often doesn't seem to come right away, but I still trust in God, that He always has my best interest in mind. For He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5 ) even until the end of the world! (Matthew 28:20 )
"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." (Step 3)
"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63 )
Addiction and codependency are sometimes defined as an unhealthy reliance on the control of people and/or things, for the purpose of satisfying our deepest spiritual and emotional needs. Instead, I choose to look to a Loving higher power, outside of myself, to fulfill my needs.
However, my tendency is to want to stand as judge and jury, really putting myself in the place of God, as I react to those around me. It's easy to get caught up in this grandiose thinking. But then I remember that I am powerless, without God (John 15:5 ). Then I remember all the times where my faulty wisdom has made choices that I will always regret. Then I consider Job, who was much more wise than I, when God rebuked him in his grandiosity (Job 38:1-41 ).
Then I realize that my judgments are not always just, but "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:" (2 Peter 2:9 ). And, I remember that only God's judgments are just (John 5:30 ).
So, rather than continuing to blame others for my problems, I choose to surrender my judgmental feelings to the only just judge, and rely on Him to restore me to sanity.
"Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (Step 2)
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