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Thank You, A.A.

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Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

God blessed me with a mentor in ministry. His name was Rev. Allen Montgomery. I served under him in Schererville, Indiana. I remember a powerful sermon Allen gave one Sunday morning. He talked about drinking and drugs. He said to the congregation that you shouldn’t just avoid alcohol and drugs because the Bible speaks to the issue. No, you should find out why the Bible speaks out against it. For today’s society, saying, “the Bible said it, isn’t enough.” You have to explain why the Bible is insistent.

Allen went on to tell the congregation why the Bible is insistent - but it wasn’t what the youth and adults had expected. He said, “When you alter your mind with alcohol or drugs, you alter the path of the Holy Spirit. You make it harder for the Spirit to not only find you, but also alcohol and drugs build a sound proof wall that keeps the Spirit from being heard.” It isn’t that God couldn’t find the alcoholic and/or drug addict, but God often respects our free will, even when we don’t respect ourselves.

God has an answer to the pain and confusion that drive people to drink, smoke, pop, and shoot. It begins with a Prayer of Confession, which is similar to A.A.’s “admitting that one cannot control one’s alcoholism, addiction, or compulsion.” In worship, we share a Declaration of Pardon right after the Confession, and it fulfills A.A.’s process of “recognizing a higher power that can give strength.” Even Passing the Peace of Christ has a similar parallel in A.A.’s 12 steps. “Examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced members).” Passing the Peace of Christ symbolizes the communal aspect of the faith. We cannot remain spiritually healthy apart from the community of faith.

I could keep going through each A.A. step, but you get the idea. A.A.’s 12 steps are a gift from God. Today, pray for those who struggle with the disease. Have the Holy Spirit move the sufferer beyond selfishness and suffering. Pray for all those who have been hurt by the one who struggles. Finally, pray for the self-awareness to consider the myriad of ways each one of us fools ourselves into thinking we can control our own lives successfully. If this isn’t our particular issue, there is something each one of us refuses to hand over to God. The illusion of control is our universal downfall. Open that pathway, knock down the walls, and allow God to renew us again.