Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Me? Agnostic?

Early in my experience with addiction recovery I glossed over Step Two: Come to believe the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health. Of course I believed in God, I didn't need this step. I already had that mastered.

When my sponsor discovered I had disregarded step two, he rolled his eyes and made me read Chapter 4 from the AA Big Book. Obediently, I complied, while thinking it was a waste of time. Boy, was I wrong! That chapter was such an eye opener for me! I was behaving like an Agnostic!

You need to understand that I've been active in the Church my entire life. I've had a testimony too! Long since. But somehow, as Stephen E. Robinson puts it; while I believed in Christ, I just didn't believe Christ. I believed He was there, created the earth and was powerful beyond my comprehension. I just didn't believe He could or would save me. Somehow, I had developed the notion that Salvation was my task, not His.

I couldn't imagine that Jesus would reach down into the mud, I'd got my self stuck in, fouled with, and pull me out, clean me up and set me off in the right direction. I thought I had to climb out of the mire of my life on my own; that I had to clean myself up and arrive presentable at the judgment seat on my own. How I could have come to these conclusions while attending church, Sunday School, reading the scriptures all my life, is simply beyond me. As Colleen Harrison so aptly describes it, I was spiritually dyslexic! It was as though I thought I had to excise my own tumor, before I could go to the doctor. I was behaving like an Agnostic while professing to be a believer.

The Twelve Steps are inspired and wonderful. Key to their success in helping me repent is the inclusion of the first three steps. They're about acknowledgement of guilt and about faith, trust in God. All of my previous attempts to repent, failed, largely because "faith preceeds the miracle" and I had skipped that part. There is a reason why Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel. I had never truly repented. All I had ever done was stop sinning (for a while). True repentance requires a remission of sins which requires allowing Jesus to remove the guilt, heal the damage and change the heart. Quitting a sinful behavior, in the short term, is not repentance. Quitting sinful behavior, in the long term, without repentance and a remission of sins, is impossible. All my life the connection between the Atonement and true repentance was somehow lost on me. I guess I should have stood on the bench in church, then maybe, what was being taught wouldn't have gone over my head!

Today, I am free of addiction because I have repented and received, throught the merits and mercy of Jesus Christ, a remission of my sins. Not for any merit of my own, for I am nothing, as to my strength I am weak. This blessing has come because my Redeemer decended below all things that He might lift me up, knowing I would be unable to lift myself.

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine
That he should extend his great love unto such as I
Sufficient to own, to redeem and to justify

I think of his hands, pierced and bleeding to pay my debt
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me
Secure in the promise of life in his victory
Thus ransomed from death I will live to my Savior's praise
And sing of his goodness and mercy through endless days

Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me
Oh, it is wonderful
Wonderful to me

I Stand All Amazed, Charles H. Gabriel)

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