Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Power of Imperfect Faith

We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!
Mark 9:23,24 NLT

“When I was driven to my knees by alcohol, I was ready to ask for the gift of faith. And all was changed. Never again, my pains and problems notwithstanding, would I experience my former desolation. I saw the universe to be lighted by God’s love; I was alone no more.
-Bill Wilson founder of Alcoholics Anonymous

The Power of Imperfect Faith

Coming to believe that we can be restored to sanity is an expression of faith. Faith, which is often confused with religious tradition, is more of a trust and confidence than anything else. Faith is more personal than religious, although faith may be a part of one’s religious convictions. Whereas many of us have previously experienced religion as a controlling set of rules that masquerade as belief, faith is more of a fundamental confidence that leads to effective life giving action. Religion is doing things in an attempt to make ourselves right. Faith is believing that God is making us right and this leads us to doing what is right. This is not to say that faith doesn’t play a necessary role in religion because it does. Religious people of all kinds express their faith in ways that help keep them mentally and emotionally balanced. The ways that healthy people, religious or not, live out their faith are lessons that are essential for us to learn as recovering addicts.

Faith is a trust; a trust and confidence that can be known as a deep abiding conviction of the heart and the mind. A deep abiding conviction of faith is the foundation of a healthy and happy life. It integrates the heart and the mind. Faith that is real is the abiding belief that God can and will do for us in our recovery what we have been unable to do on our own, no matter how hard we tried. Faith is a reaching out, an opening of the mind and the heart to possibilities that we had ignored or opportunities that we had refused in the past. In faith we trust in God and we trust in the people that God brings into our lives who can help us in our recovery. In faith we come to believe that God will provide all that we need to recover and that our responsibility is to simply supply the honesty, the openness and the willingness to do the work of recovery. In faith, God provides everything that we need to recover. In faith we know that if He doesn’t provide something that we think we need, we accept that we don’t really need it after all.

Real faith is honest and in touch with reality. It never defies the facts. Our friend that we read about in Mark 9, verses 22 and 23, gives an honest expression of his heart and his mind. On the one hand he cries out desperately, hoping for help for his son and at the same time expressing the weakness of his faith. He seems to be torn but really he’s just being human. Jesus recognized that amidst his struggling expression of faith he was really expressing a faithful struggle of hope and belief. Jesus knows that our honest faith is never without doubt. From this story we can learn to have faith in God’s empathetic care. We can have faith that Jesus, who the Bible says is God in human form, understands what it means to be human. He understands the struggle of faith, the faithful struggle to believe that God will connect to our weak faith all the power and resources necessary to accomplish His healing love and care in our lives. Our friend in this story seems to understand this, and it is necessary for us to understand this as well.

In Step 2, we are putting our faith in God and not in ourselves, which would lead us back to our addictions. Nor is our faith in our own faith which is nothing more than wishful thinking and superstition. In Step 2 we just believe, as faithfully as we can, that God will come through for us. It’s really very simple. A weak faith that trusts in a loving and powerful God is more than sufficient to meet any of the demands that we will face in our recovery. And, as we struggle faithfully to believe in God’s care and love we can know from this Scriptural record that Jesus will carefully give us all that we need just as he did for our friend in the scripture. Our faith doesn’t need to be perfect because our faith is in God. He takes care of the rest.

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