Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Becoming Ready

We became entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

When the Lord saw that he had caught Moses’ attention, God called to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!” Here I am!” Moses replied.”
Exodus 3:4

"Since most of us are born with an abundance of natural desires, it isn’t strange that we often let these far exceed their intended purpose. When they drive us blindly, or we willfully demand that they supply us with more satisfactions or pleasures that are possible or due us, that is the point at which we depart from the degree of perfection that God wishes for us here on earth. That is the measure of our character defects or if you wish, of our sins."
- Alcoholics Anonymous

Becoming Ready

The way that God deals with us on a personal level will be as unique as we are as individuals and as mysterious as God is himself. While we all share common ground with one another, we will all have some very specific and unique experiences that will prepare us for the life that God has planned for us. What God uses to get hold of one person may not work for another. No matter how it happens, each of us will be led, if not already there, into a wilderness experience. Our hopes will be lost and our dreams will be destroyed. We will be reduced to the helpless and dependent state of a child. As painful and difficult as this may sound, this is all good news because it is only in a childlike experience of dependency that we are made ready to receive the best that God has to give us.

Our friend Moses, from the Scriptures, is one example of how God pulled someone into a life changing encounter with himself. As a young man, Moses had a difficult time staying out of trouble. Conflict seemed to follow him wherever he went. He seemed to be at his best and at his worst when he was responding to the people and the circumstances around him. Moses had a strong desire to change the things that he thought were wrong, but very often his best intentions, combined with his misguided reactions, made things worse. Moses used his God-given talents in ways that were both bad and good. Moses was, in himself, conflicted, just like we are.

The story of Moses’ life is told in the biblical books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. These books paint a colorful picture of a man who had all the best intentions, and at the same time they also show us a man who had a painfully difficult time putting his good intentions into healthy and productive action. Moses’ character defects often blocked the good outcomes that he intended. We need to read the biblical record in order to see the complete picture of Moses’ life, but here are a few low and high points of interest that will help us to see how God worked to change Moses’ thinking, which in turn changed Moses’ way of living.

Born an Israelite and separated from his parents as an infant, Moses was raised by the daughter of the king of Egypt. He was educated by the best that the culture of his day had to offer. One day as a young man, seeing one of his Hebrew countrymen being beaten, Moses went to his countryman’s aid and killed an Egyptian citizen. Later, when Moses was confronted about the killing, he fled into the wilderness in order to escape prosecution for the murder that he committed. There, in the wilderness, he married and started a family, and he lived in obscurity. In his running away, Moses abandoned himself to the wilderness. He abandoned his lost hopes and his broken dreams. But, God did not abandon Moses. After many years, the king of Egypt died. Moses, who was now tending sheep for his father-in-law, had given up and maybe forgotten all about his grandiose ideas of heroic escapades. But God had not forgotten, and God had certainly not given up on Moses. God was at work deep in Moses’ heart and mind during this time of obscurity. God was preparing Moses for the future that He had in mind for him. When God’s work of preparation was fulfilled, He reached out and made contact with Moses in the form of the burning bush. When God spoke, Moses, having been made ready in ways that Moses was not even aware of, answered back to God. Then, because he was ready and willing, Moses set out to become all that God had prepared him to be. As a result of God’s work of preparation, coupled with Moses’ humble willingness to change, Moses returned to Egypt where he led his Israelite brothers and sisters out of a captivity they had suffered for over 400 years. (Please read Exodus Chapter 3 for a more detailed account of how all this happened.) Like Moses, we all have spent years living in obscurity and pain, as proven by our addictions. We never meant to end up the way we were, but we did. We never intended to get sidetracked, but we did. Our addictions prove how we had given up on ourselves, how we had lost our hopes and our dreams. But, and here is the good news, God has not given up on us. He is at work. He is sustaining our lives and He is waiting for us to be ready to have the defects in our character removed from us.

Our good intentions and our character defects are like two sides of the same coin. They live together, side by side, until we become entirely ready to have the character defects that corrupt our good intentions removed from us. This means that we are ready to be made into fundamentally different kind of people. Staying the same will no longer be acceptable to us. We want to be different in order to move on and experience the life that God has to give us.

Feeling dissatisfied with who we are creates a deep desire for change. Dissatisfaction and desire go hand-in-hand much like our good intentions and our character defects. The kind of dissatisfaction that leads to desire for change makes us intentional about our recovery. It motivates us to take action. The desire that we feel for change is a gift from God. It is a quality that is unique to the human experience. It reveals the redeemable condition of our heart. Godly dissatisfaction and the desire to change create a vision for how we will live, not only recovering from our addictions, but as men and women who are truly free. Godly desire is about becoming ready to have the entire panorama of our inner life reformatted and changed by the perfect design of God. Godly desire makes us ready to set aside our own demands for personal satisfaction. It makes us ready to be the kind of people who love other people in ways that only God makes possible. Our old nature will dry up and it will begin to fall away. We will bloom from the inside out. We will realize that we are prepared, or maybe it is better to say that we are being prepared, to live life in a way that only God can give. Just like our friend, Moses.

The story of Moses’ life is a wonderful example of how God makes good use of our failures. It is safe to say that Moses was better prepared by God during the time that he spent living in obscurity than in any way that Moses could have ever prepared himself. Just like with Moses, God is doing His most intimate work inside of us during the times when we feel the most broken and hopeless. It is during times of difficulty and failure that God whittles away at our ego and prepares our character to become more like His own. We can’t always see or feel this most intimate work of God, but its reality is proven through our own willingness -- the willingness to change that we now have but did not have before. Nothing is ever wasted if we are willing to give it to God. The more God rules our minds and our hearts, the more our failures and addictions will become assets to us and to those around us.

Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Six Segment Three
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
Operation Integrity
24040 Camino del Avion #A115
Monarch Beach CA 92629

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