Monday, June 05, 2006

Practice Three

Sorry for the delay, but the delay has been due largely to me working with practice 3: "Turning our wills and our lives over to the care and unfolding work of God through Jesus." It turns out, God had priorities for me in the last week or so other than blogging.

As usual, my version varies slightly from the original step 3. This time, the changes were really just twofold—I added "unfolding work" and specifically pointed to God's work and care through Jesus. In short, this step is a response to Jesus' good news--the gospel (see previous posts for a few details.) For now, let me just say that the announcement that "God's reign has come near" is an announcement of God's willingness to function as our king again--to protect, to lead, to care for us, and so much more. Step three, to me, is saying "yes" to that. Jesus' character, teachings and healings are all revelations of what God's leadership is like. And God is not a king that sends his people out to be slaughtered as he and his family stay safe inside a huge castle. No! If there is blood to be spilled, if there are feet to be washed, he goes first, and gives us hope that even death can't break his loving care for us, his willingness and power to provide us with life. Life to the fullest. This is God's reign. The fact that we can be in God's reign, be his subjects, his children, his instruments--this is the good news Jesus brings. It's the news he makes possible with his own blood. As the apostles make abundantly clear after his resurrection, he was and is the King with us all along.

Regarding the "unfolding" language, Jesus compares God's reign on the earth to a mustard seed, which, even though it is the smallest seed, it will eventually become the largest tree in the garden. It is also like yeast that eventually works its effects through an entire lump of dough. This world is the garden; this world is the lump of dough. Jesus—his character, his power over death, disease and demons, his love—is the seed, the yeast, doing it's work in the world, until everything is renewed, and at that time he will hand the kingdom over to the Father. This is what I'm surrendering to. This is who I'm giving myself to for complete overhaul. This is a moving, a growing kingdom doing good--the best--in this world. My surrender to God is surrender to a God with legs. Yes, I will have rest, rest like the world has not known for a long time. But I will trust him to care for me and lead me in my getting up and my lying down. Further, I will come to know a rest even in my work with him that is unlike anything of this world, because he will be working with me, or, through me.

Anyway, there's a lot there with the "theory" behind this practice, because this one happens to be a "yes" to Jesus himself and all of God's plans through him. The scriptures literally say that it is beyond what we can hope or imagine. For better or worse, I'm giving my life to Jesus, and we'll see what happens. With him I place my hope for all things.

Honestly, the way this has been playing out for me is that the thought of God's intentions has led me to worship. Not necessarily sing, but worship. The result has been less of me invested in my addictions. More often, though not always, when they call lately, their offer seems smaller, less glorious. I think the glory of God, which I've dared to look at lately, has changed my view. Also, I let God control more of my actions. I had more desire to do so for my own good and that of others. I've also had more desire to learn about what I'm giving myself to in this "Jesus life." I've been reading more of the bible to hear God's voice, get his thoughts and his "ways." I've also been more suspicious of influences that I've tolerated for some time. I haven't done much yet, but I'm feeling suspicion, and I'm thinking that's a good thing.

On a related note, my buddy Ahren and I have been talking about starting a group who will use the steps and traditions as a means of progressing in our life in Jesus. (This has been a long time comin'.) I can't go into all of it right now, but all feedback has been encouraging at this point. We have two different places that are eager to host and get some people involved. We're working on specific times. I'm really excited and thankful. May God's will be done. Amen!

3 comments:

Mike said...

Really enjoying reading along (and learning...and practicing!) with you as you work this out. I particularly resonate with what you said about worship and its resulting effect on addictions, or idolatry. Good stuff.

Laura said...

Forgive me if you've already covered this...I am curious as to whether this 12-step group has/will have any old-timers to pass along the program? It is the theraputic value of one addict helping another that makes these programs work. I've been to a lot of pseudo 12-step programs where the literature was AA but the practice was far from it. Not to criticize what you're doing. But it will not be "the program" without people with experience in the program to pass it on.

T said...

Laura,

(About the difference between groups and their literature--the same thing happens in churches!) I don't know if my buddy Ahren would call himself an oldtimer, but he has extensive experience in Al-Anon groups. He came to know Jesus primarily through Al-Anon and, due to the significant differences between Al-Anon and most every church, he had a hard time for a while going to any church for any length of time. He has been asking for years why church can't be more like AA.

According to him, the extent to which a specific group embraces the traditions makes a big difference regarding the tone and quality of the group (even in Al-Anon groups). I can see how this would be the case. We'll see. We'll likely adapt them about as much as I've adapted the steps, and ultimately, the group conscience will decide. We're going to try to pursue real honesty, and avoid any dominance. There will be some differences from other groups since we're not addiction-specific, and are source specific (Jesus). Regardless of how it turns out, though, I believe in it enough to give it a serious go (or two or three). I'll let everyone know how it goes on the blog.