Summary: Step seven focuses on our actually asking God to remove our defects and/or addictions.
Twelve Steps To Recovery Part 7
To date in this series we have discussed the first six steps in the twelve step process. We began by admitting that we were powerless over our dependencies and that there was a God greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity. After reaching that point, in step three we made the decision to turn our lives over to the care of God, a conscious choice that was made freely. In steps four and five we took a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and came to the point of understanding our addictions and confessing them to ourselves, God and to another trusted individual. In step six, after recognizing our addictions for what they were, we came to the point where we were ready to have God remove all of the defects from our character. This is a voluntary decision to submit to every change God wants to make in our lives as we humbly ask Him to remove our character defects. Having come to the point of being ready to have our defects removed, we are ready for step number seven, asking God to remove them.
The Scriptures tell us in 1 John 1:9 that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Focus on the one word “if”. The word if sets up a condition for something to take place. It defines what needs to happen first in order for the next thing to happen. For example, you may have heard someone say, “I will do this if you will do that.” The “if” denotes what condition must be met in order for something to be done. In the verse we read from 1 John 1:9, the “if” denotes that to receive forgiveness for our sins; to be cleansed from all unrighteousness; we must confess our sins before God. God goes into action when we come before Him. We therefore cannot receive forgiveness without there first being some confessing. In step 6 we were ready to have God remove our defects and in step seven we come to Him and humbly ask Him to do it.
I. Giving Up the Control
Step seven begins when we humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings. This step represents a turning point in the recovery process. The first six steps focused on the inner work that has to be done and step seven acts as a bridge between the first six steps and the final steps which are focused on our outer work that must be done. To cross this bridge successfully, we have to release our control and allow God to do what He needs to do. Although we may ask God to remove our shortcomings, it is natural to want to tell God “how to do it” and what is the best way that works for us. Well if we knew that much we would have already dealt with our addictions. The fact that we need God to fix us should tell us that our methods do not quite get it done.
So let’s talk a little about releasing the control. Have you ever asked someone to do something for you and then proceeded to tell them how to do it? I have done that several times. I remember once asking Nikki to make me a German chocolate cake. While she was making it, I thought she needed more icing and proceeded to tell her. I will not discuss her response, but I learned quickly that if you ask someone to do something for you, something you cannot do for yourself, you cannot expect to control how they do it. We do this often when we are riding with someone and they are taking us somewhere we have driven before. We actually expect them to go in the same direction that we would go. If they go a different route, we begin to question them about why they were doing it as if the way we would go is the only way. Although someone else is driving, we still want to hold on to the control as to how we get to the place and often make comments about how our way is better or faster.
We do the same thing with God. We are so used to calling the shots that we’ll ask for God’s help and “accept it” as long as He does it on our terms. In other words, He must run His plan by us to gain our approval before we are comfortable enough to follow Him. In our thinking we want to see what God has planned and offer any changes that we may want, especially as it pertains to the timetable in which something is done. If you have not already figured this out, God does not operate like this. This is why our humility plays such an important role in this step. Consider the lesson that God taught Jeremiah in Jeremiah18:1-6: “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying, ‘Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I shall announce My words to you.’ Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”