If you have a family member or friend in some kind of 12 Step Program and they’ve not yet found freedom from their addiction, you may find this story helpful.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting outdoors on a sunny, crisp fall day, having a cup of coffee with John, a young man who’s been in and out of rehab for years. John is good looking, intelligent, charming and an alcoholic. He grew up in a Christian family so he knows about God – he even says he “believes in God.” However, there’s not much evidence he’s serious about following Jesus. Nevertheless, it’s to this higher power that he prays, but apparently without much success. And he doesn’t know why. “Why doesn’t God deliver me from this addiction?” he asks.
I told him the story of a close friend of mine, who was in rehab in California years ago. Everyone in their group was asked to describe their higher power. One man said that his higher power was the color yellow! When I heard that, I was stunned that anyone would think an object, or color could ever help them overcome their addition. I mean, pick gravity, or the force – anything that has some power, but not an inanimate object or color! No wonder that guy was still struggling. He might as well been praying to the wall.
The young man with whom I was having coffee agreed. That higher power, had no higher power! Ridiculous!
“John, I think you have the same problem. I think you’ve been praying to the yellow god! You say you’re a Christian, but as far as I know, you’ve never surrendered your life to Jesus Christ. God is a deity that you acknowledge when you go to church occasionally, but you’ve shown absolutely no interest in pledging your life or allegiance exclusively to him. You’re wanting him to solve your problem, but not rule your life.”
Paul described a group of believers who had a similar problem. He said of them, they have “a form of godliness, but deny its power.” (2 Timothy 3:5)
I told him that one of the primary founders of AA, “Bill W.” was a born again believer, who fully understood that it was only his dependence on the Holy Spirit’s power that could set him free from this “mental disorder” as he put it. (It is true that AA now allows men and women to acknowledge any god, or anything, as their higher power.)
But, back to my friend. “John, for the next 30 days, I’d like you to read the Book of Luke, 15 minutes a day. But before you do, pray this prayer, God, teach me everything you want me to know and give me the courage to obey and live it out.
My friend still hasn’t done that. So the “god” John acknowledges at his meetings, still have as much power, as the color yellow. But I’m still praying for him, that he finds himself at the feet of the cross and cries out for the blood of Christ to save him. Red is the color he needs. Not yellow!
How following Jesus works in real life.
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