This week we have a visiting blogger- John Thomas. He has an experience to share that I think will lifft you up this week. - Glenn
It is my desire also to become a better and better witness for our Lord in the midst of 12 step recovery in the modern world, where very often there is a diminishment, and sometimes even a disparagement of God, and even more of our Lord Jesus. I have for a long time not perceived my Christian walk and my AA walk as two separate things—they are both part of the Kingdom. If Jesus were to visit us in the flesh today, I would expect to find him eagerly engaging in our ATB class on Sunday’s and at our AA meetings at NABA during the week! And after the meeting, he would have lunch with the “publicans, tax collectors, and sinners, which of course would include me!” Even as I write this, I am aware that Jesus IS present in all those places with me—because, if I let Him, He walks before me in Spirit in all things and at all times. I am learning, and hope to continue learning, how to “share my faith—use words if necessary!”
I had an experience early last week that I would like to share with you. I was in our regular Monday 11AM step study meeting at NABA—usually we have close to 100 in attendance at that meeting. The topic was Step 6. We begin the discussion with reading the chapter in the 12X12, then open for discussion. I listened at that meeting, and did not volunteer to share, although I usually do volunteer. The discussion leader, however, called on me to be the last to share, and “wrap it up” for the group. We have a good contingent of old timers in the group, as well as many newcomers and half-way house folks. We also have a small contingent of “two-steppers” in that group, some with a lot of sobriety, who only want to share about “not drinking,” and how they are achieving that goal without using the steps—especially the steps “about God” (of course, all the steps are about God). There is a younger guy—sober a couple of years, who is very vocal and very belligerent about this—the poor guy is trying to convince himself, and others too, that he can stay sober, have a good life, eliminate God from all 12 steps, and be an atheist--all at the same time
(I will interrupt my story here to tell you that one of my persistent character defects is that I am easily offended and over-sensitive to the words and acts of others, especially if they are directed at me! I have grown a lot in this area, and I am grateful to tell you that if I remember to turn to God in these moments, I am almost always able to contain these judgmental and self-righteous thoughts to myself, and no-one but God and I know that I have had those feelings. I will take step 10 right away. I share the experience with Marsy and we pray about it. I, like you, also have a handful of very close, long-term, co-sponsor/accountability partners. Never-the-less, unloving thoughts do sometimes spring up, and I am thus put in the position of either processing them through the Grace of God, or acting inappropriately on them.}
So, continuing the story, immediately after the discussion leader called on me to wrap up the discussion, our friend the atheist piped up in a loud voice, “oh, ****, call in the God Squad, **** that!” It took the discussion leader off guard, and stunned me. The leader thought for a moment and then said, “John, please go ahead.” Glenn, the words that came out of my mouth were not my own. Thank you, Jesus. I said, “It’s OK. Why don’t we let (the atheist) share if he has something he would like to say?” At that point, Mr. Atheist got up and stalked out of the room. The Lord gave me some words to say on the topic, and the meeting closed. I received many personal comments of encouragement from folks after the meeting
But, following the natural trend of my thoughts (have you ever popped yourself with a hammer, or stubbed your toe real bad, but not had the pain show up till several hours later?!) I began to have a growing crescendo of “unchristian” thoughts later, complete with the scenario of the imaginary conversation my “defect” wanted to have with Mr. Atheist. When I got home, I shared the experience with Marsy and we had a prayer about it.
Not too much later, a thought came to my mind about a certain scripture. I hadn’t thought about it in probably years. I knew it was in Matthew, but had to locate the chapter and verse.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5: 11-12.
Because of this Grace, I was freed from the prison of my thoughts almost immediately. I have been able to return to offering honest prayers in behalf of Mr. Atheist. And I have again been led to understand that Jesus once more stepped in front of me to take the blows Himself, and protect me from the “flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Eph. 6: 16).
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.