Puzzle Peices and the Lord’s Prayer (For All Believers)

I used to relate to what I have heard many people in various fellowships speak about regarding the feeling that they have something missing spiritually. They say they feel as though they have a “hole in their gut” ; a dull ache ; a sense of being disconnected , or of not belonging. Sometimes, this is also referred to in recovery meetings as a “God Shaped Hole”, which addicts try to fill with anything and everything, but to no avail because only God can fill that hole.
The Big Book of AA refers to “an incomprehensible demoralization”, and a state of being “restless irritable and discontent”.

I am thinking that maybe this imagery is backwards. In a meeting recently, there was discussion about following our own will versus following God’s will, and the third step “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” and also step nine about making amends and restitution. We also read the source of these aspects of the recovery fellowship, Sermon on the Mount Mathew 5:23-24 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift”.

With all these thing swirling in my head, I had a realization of how following God’s will, making things right with my fellow man and offering my gift to God all fit together like a puzzle.

God is the author of all creation. From before the big bang when everything came from nothing, He reigns supreme and is the source of all things. There is nothing that is, that did not come from Him. Everything and anything I have or will ever have, is really His, I just get to enjoy some of it for awhile. No matter how things get moved around on planet earth, the ultimate owner of all things is God. There is only one notable exception to this truth, and God excluded this one thing and withholds it from Himself voluntarily, and that is our free will. The only thing I can offer to God, that He does not already have, is my will. It is my only gift that I can give to Him. In an analogy of the puzzle of all creation, each person is a piece of that puzzle, which God created and only He has designed the picture that will be revealed when all the pieces are in place. So when I get to the place of offering my gift at His alter by turning my will and life over to Him through the process or working all twelve steps, I am placing my puzzle piece into His puzzle. The hole is in His creation waiting for me to choose to fill it in. Until I do that, my puzzle piece does not make any sense, and God’s puzzle has an empty space. The meaning and purpose of my puzzle piece is only revealed in the context of the rest of the picture that the overall puzzle reveals. Set out to the side, away from the overall puzzle, it is disconnected; an uncompleted fragment of a bigger picture, His picture.

So maybe God does not fill a hole in me, but rather I choose to fill my predestined place in the puzzle of His creation. The unique space that He designed only for me. God has a plan for every mans life…to fill in their part of His puzzle. Will I do it. Jesus prayed for it to be so.

The scripture that is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer” Mathew 6:9-13, was Jesus response to His disciples questioning Him as to how they should pray. So I have often thought that this really is the disciples prayer, any disciples prayer, my prayer given to me by Jesus, which is awesome. For me, maybe the Lord’s Prayer, the greatest prayer by Jesus and from Jesus, is focused on Him praying this very thing, that we as pieces of the puzzle, find our place and fit in exactly where we belong… He could have prayed anything, but this was his prayer, John 17: 20-23

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”.

Who is Healed?

In the book of John chapter 17 there is a description of Jesus traveling along the border of Samaria. Upon entering a town there he is confronted by a group of 10 lepers that cry out to him that they wish to be cleansed. Jesus instructs them to go and show themselves to the Pharisees. Upon doing as instructed, it was revealed that they had been healed. After the healing of the 10 lepers one of the 10 ran back to Jesus praising God and Jesus in gratitude and thanks for having been healed. Jesus then questions where are the other nine? He then states to the one that returned in gratitude and recognition of the source of the miracle and proclaimed to him “by your faith you have been healed”. My study Bible commentary indicates that the word healed that’s used in the holy scripture describing this situation is one of many words in the Greek language that mean different variations of healing and in this particular case the word means to be “saved”. So the message that I received upon meditation of this keep scripture is that although many may be saved and healed in a physical sense due to God’s great love for all his children, I will only be saved spiritually and with everlasting life through a belief in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the recovery fellowship of today it is sad for me to see how many worship the fellowship itself or other members of the fellowship, sponsors or the founders, all of which are various forms of idolatry. As it states in how it works “there is One who has all power that One is God may you find him now!” If only the recovery fellowship would take literally the wise words that have been written in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous and recognize that there truly is “One who has all power” and recognize that we are indeed ” restored and united under one God with hearts and minds attuned to the welfare of others”. I pray daily for our fellowship and for a return to the recognition that ” either God is or He isn’t ” and he most definitely is.

What if He is?

“Either God is or He isn’t.” (p53 We Agnostics Big Book). This statement is a fork in the road, leading me to very different journeys and destinations.

If He isn’t:

All creation is a grand accident, the result of random chance.
I came from nothing and will return to nothing.
When I die, it’s over, nothing exists beyond the physical world.

If He is:

There is a Creator of all and a plan for all, including me.
I came from God and He is with me now and forever.
Christ’s death and resurrection insures eternal life for me and all believers.

It seems that AA literature and the Bible are in synch on these matters:

AA Literature:

BB How It Works, p. 58
There is One who has all power, that One is God may you find him now.

BB A Vision For You, p.161 View A VISION FOR YOU chapter
They had visioned the Great Reality — their loving and All Powerful Creator.

BB How It Works, p.63
As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter.

12&12 Step Eleven, p.105
We know that when we turn to Him, all will be well with us, here and hereafter.

BB Appendix V, The Religious View on A.A., p.572
“The basis of the technique of Alcoholics Anonymous is the truly Christian principle that a man cannot help himself except by helping others.

BB Bill’s Story, p.13
I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch.

AA Co-Founders Pamphlet P53

But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book. To some of us older ones, that parts that we found absolutely essential were Sermon on the Mount (Matthew5-7) 1 Corinthians 13 and the Book of James. P 13
We already had the basic ideas, though not in terse and tangible form. We got them as I said, as a result of our study of the Good Book. We must have had them. Since then, we have learned from experience that they are very important in maintaining sobriety.

Holy Bible:

John 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcomea it………..
9The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 16:6-14
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. …..

John 1:29
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! …

Sermon on the Mount: see Matthew 5-7 (Jesus teachings identified as “essential” by AA founders)

1 Corinthians 13: (Apostle Paul’s dissertation on the most important thing, Love.)

The Book of James: ( Christ’s brother James book full of principles extracted by Founders of AA)

I have discovered that the statement on p164 is absolutely true “God will disclose more to you and to us”. He discloses more to me through my study of His word, just like the Founders. “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” That path leads through the Bible, guided by my sponsor Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. “You may meet some of us in the Fellowship of the Spirit” BB p164. Indeed.

Amen

Roots Poster

Roots Shadow Box072814While at a twelve step men’s retreat in the mountains recently, I was hiking and came across an area where tree’s had been uprooted. I found a section of a root that was shaped like a cross, which I found unusual. The thought occurred to me that the Christian Cross, (the Christian Bible  and Christ’s teachings), is the root of the recovery fellowships in that the origin of the  AA Big Book and principles of the fellowship are identified  by the AA Founders in multiple AA literature sources as,  Sermon on the Mount,  Book of James, 1 Corinthians 13 and Psalms 91 & 23. I decided to make a physical representation of these concepts using that cross shaped section of the root, and created a shadow box toward that end. I had a professional photographer shoot a photo and this image is the result . For me the image says a lot in a simple way, and puts things in their proper perspective. I hope others will enjoy the image.

What’s in our Spiritual BIO?

The AA Founders biographical books are amazing. Anyone in a 12 Step Recovery program, or anyone associated with members of that “Fellowship of the Spirit”, (as it is so aptly named in the last sentence of the Book Alcoholics Anonymous on p 164) should take the time to read Dr Bob and the Good Old Timers, and Pass It On.

These books, which are published by AA, contain the actual stories of the founders, the progression of their disease, and then the progression of their faith and recovery. Dr Bob is quite clear about the spiritual foundation of the fellowship being the Bible, and his common response to anyone inquiring about living problems or seeking guidance in sobriety was “What does the Good Book say?” Bill’s recount of his spiritual experience is inedible and a very compelling testimony about his life long assertion about the importance of “total ego deflation”(hitting bottom in modern day fellowship lingo) in order to let God into their lives completely.

Both Bob and Bill’s story directly tie their own sobriety and salvation, to their personal experience and daily relationship with Jesus Christ. They say the method in which they received that message was through the Oxford Group, the members of which claimed no affiliation to traditional sectarian or organized religion, but modeled their lives directly after Jesus as described and directed in the Holy Bible. This is our heritage as members of the fellowship.

In light of these facts about The Fellowship of the Spirit, the following quotes from the Big Book Chapter Five How It Works describe a specific and critically important message : “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.”….”Our stories disclose in a general way, what we were like, what happened and was we are like now”……” we must be willing to go to any length”…and “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs”.

The message is clear to me. Follow Jesus Christ and help other do the same, period. No asterisks or further explanations or appendixes needed. Amen

Paddle to the Source

When I am coasting down the river in my own little canoe, enjoying the scenery, focused on my own journey, it is a temporary reprieve. As I continue on that course of inaction, if I pay any attention, I start to hear a sound in the distance, small at first but growing in intensity until it becomes a deafening roar. The sound is the river flowing over the edge of a waterfall, and my fate will be destruction on the rocks below.

The problem is that the closer I get to the edge the faster the current becomes, and even if I try to turn around and paddle upstream, away from the edge, I cannot paddle fast enough on my own. There are other travelers on the river however, and if I ask, they will paddle with me, and together we can make progress against the current and avoid the rocks below.

Since coasting leads to the falls, my only solution is to paddle to the source, and that is both my own individual and a group effort. Along the way, I may have a chance to invite another traveler or two, headed toward the falls, to join in the path to the source.

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37-38

Matthew 28:19-20
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

My neighbor holds the keys to Heaven’s Gate

The best way for me to avoid a spiritual defect is to embrace a spiritual virtue. Two of the twelve “principle or virtues” of the recovery fellowship include Step 8 “Brotherly Love” and Step 12 “Service”.

Matthew 22:36-40
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]
40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew 25:34-40

…‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

When I see anyone in need and my heart is full of brotherly love and the desire to serve through the Holy Spirit, and I reach out in love to help others, the root of all sin, selfish and self- centeredness is extinguished. One of Bill W’s favorite prayers is the St Francis prayer, and it appears in the 12X12 Step 12 and in the AA pamphlet “Co Founders Biographical Sketches”. That prayer is an awesome way for me to ask God to help me to focus on others.

Truly, when my neighbor is in need and “reaches out for help”, not only am I following the “responsibility statement” (Whenever anyone reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there , and for that I am responsible.) ….. but he is offering me the keys to heavens gate.

Identification

I have followed tradition in recovery meetings and identify myself in the way everyone else does, by saying my first name and the saying I am …an alcoholic, addict…fill in the blank. I understand the importance of the constant reminder that I am one drink or drug away from going back to where I came from and that constant diligence is required. However, it seems that the Big Book, “the primary text of our fellowship (fourth edition dust jacket quote” seems to emphasize the solution rather than the problem. The first Edition forward, the very first sentence of the message from the Founders, states that “we are more than 100 men and women who have recovered from seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” and Bill’s “AA Golden Text on page 191 of the 4th edition BB says “I am just so grateful that the Lord has cured me from this terrible disease, that I just want to keep telling people about it.” . Page 161 of the 4th edition BB says ” We are
restored and united under one God, with hearts and minds attuned to the welfare of others” and BB 4th edition p 63 says “We were reborn.” and lastly the page 25 description of the solution sums up the recovered persons new state of being exceedingly well.

So why all the focus in modern meetings on identification to the problem rather than the solution? I will leave the research of the hows and whys we came to that to others, but I don’t think it has always been that way. I have heard recordings of Bill and Bob both where they did not introduce themselves in that now customary way.

For me, there are a number of alternative ways to “identify” at a meeting:

“I am a recovered alkie and a friend of Bill’s Friend on p13 of the BB”
” I am a born again alkie like on page 63 of the BB”
I am a restored Alkie through the One who has all power in How it Works”

These are but three of numerous ways to identify with the miracle in my life, and testify about the One who is responsible.

Recovery is a contact sport

Conscious contact with God. That is what I lacked for many years. I believed in God. I knew of God, I read about God, I was told about God, but I was not in contact with God. The truth is that I was in conscious flight from God. I thought he was disappointed in me. I was ashamed to be in His presence, so I avoided Him. What a gift to realize that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
(John 3:17)

I ran from God and found Him waiting for me in the recovery fellowships. “God will reveal more to you and to us” (Big Book p164) Today I have a hunger to be in contact with Him, and try to follow His will.

Step 11: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

For me, this is part of what God has revealed:

His “will”:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

What to “carry out”:

(Prayer of St Francis of Assisi) —”Lord, make me a channel of thy peace – that where there is hatred, I may bring love – that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness – that where there is discord, I may bring harmony – that where there is error, I may bring truth – that where there is doubt, I may bring faith – that where there is despair, I may bring hope – that where there are shadows, I may bring light – that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted – to understand, than to be understood – to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen.” (p. 99 12&12)

Amen