Retired Pastor Pat Duffin,
High Prairie Christian Centre
Having completed a searching and fearless moral inventory, having admitted our findings to ourselves, to God, and to another human being, and having sought to make amends to others, we have overcome the greatest hurdles standing in the way of our recovery.
It is now time to begin reaping the rewards of our hard work and enjoying the benefits of becoming a spiritually minded person who has begun experiencing that conscious contact with God we have been seeking. No one could progress through all that serious recovery work with all the spiritual changes that have been taken place in our outlook and personality without realizing that God is indeed alive and actively at work in us.
“The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.” [The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Second Edition, page 25]
“We have entered the world of the Spirit.” [page 84].
We can feel His hand of guidance. We suddenly recognize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. [page 84] We see life improving. There is a new hope and a peaceful serenity emanating from our souls and even embracing those around us. We are now looking forward to a new way of living. We are experiencing the most wonderful in our relationships and situations. Even other people can see the difference and are becoming hopeful that life will be better for everyone from this point forward.
This is no time to rest on our laurels. For us, to stop growing is to start dying. We quickly regress and return to our former state. We must continue to press on. We must devote ourselves to continual progress and development. For us, being normal is not a viable goal. We must strive toward complete wellness and wholeness. This means physical, mental, and spiritual wholeness. Therefore, we may only claim spiritual progress rather than perfection. And eventually we shall be made perfect when we finally meet our Maker face-to-face. Until then, the work continues without pause and without indulgent complacency.
The good news is it keeps getting better, richer, fuller, and more joyful. That does not mean there will not be challenges, trials, or adversities. Life has its own way of bringing these negative things our way. The difference is we now have personal resources to deal with them. We have knowledge, understanding, skills, tools, and helpers we never had before. Instead of being adversaries, our family and, friends are now a support group. And God is now closer to us than our own breath.
Just as marriage needs relationship, care and regular maintenance, so does our relationship with God. It needs to be continually directed with purpose and having an ultimate destination in mind.
But rather than our previous journey to destruction, we are now on a journey of new life and discovery that even our wildest imagining could never anticipate. Therefore, we continue to work the Steps of Recovery. They are not one-time steps. They are something that we keep working, keep perfecting, keep repeating because they are the agents of change and progress that brought us to this new place of freedom and joy. The Steps of Recovery, when earnestly practiced, are the tools, the philosophy and the formation process that facilitates the changes that lead to immense rewards.
So precious are these blessings that we neither desire, nor can we afford to ever let go.
But there are traps. There are things for which we must be vigilant and continuously on guard because they can derail us if we do not manage them. We cannot survive without a healthy appreciation for our own sinfulness and wrongful inclinations imbedded in our being. Despite our most strenuous efforts to suppress them, our character defects and personal shortcomings still manage to surface – even when everything is going well! These lesser angels are perfectly able to sabotage our recovery in spectacular fashion. Or, they can gradually grind us down until there is no resistance left. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous points the way.
Selfishness—self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.
So, our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible.
“And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid. Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God’s help.” [page 62]
That is why it is incumbent upon us to continue to maintain our spiritual condition so we can keep that daily reprieve granted to us by God. [page. 85]
It is God that makes it possible. [page 62]
“Wen the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically [page 64] So, with with all the earnestness at my command, I beg you to become a student of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, also “the big, big book called the Bible, from which all the spiritual principles are derived. As was exorted by the original authors of the Big Book, be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer [page 87].”
Like the old Canadian Forces recruiting slogan, “There’s no life like it.”