The men at First Baptist Dallas Celebrate Recovery are currently working Steps 6 and 7.
Step 6: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step 7: We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.
Principle 5: Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.
I’ve worked the 12 Steps seven times now, and I must admit, after writing my inventory and sharing it with my sponsor, these two steps seemed like “blow-off steps” to me, leading up to the big showdown called “Amends.” But, after so many times through the program, I have now come to see sweet rewards in these two steps. I like to think of them as the “prayer” steps.
My root causes for entering C.R. were pornography and racism. I am blessed to be sober from these since 2008. But in each step study I’ve completed, God has shown me new areas for renewal, including critical spirit, low self-worth, idolatry (placing my own comfort, control, convenience and approval over God), selfishness and now, trusting God and others instead of attempting to control the situation on my own.
I wrote specifics on this case in my inventory – reasons not to trust God, my wife, my sons and others – and how my distrust has caused stress in my life. I shared this with my sponsor. And now, as I work steps 6 and 7, I am bringing this “shortcoming,” this “character defect,” to God in prayer. Before I go to make my amends with others, I am asking the only person I know who can fix this in me to truly fix it. I am pleading with God to remove this from my heart, to cover over it with His grace, and replace it with pure trust. On my own, I am powerless to do so. Steps 6 and 7 instruct me to prepare my heart for God’s blessing and to “ask” Him to complete the process.
Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
The key words for me in that verse are “take delight in the Lord.” I used to think it meant that if I prayed, for anything, God would give it to me because I desire it. No. I desire comfort. I desire approval. I desire vengeance. I desire a lot of things God does not intend for me and mostly hates. But if I delight in Him, if I want to make Him happy, not me, guess what? He gives me the desires of my heart. So, I am spending time in prayer during steps 6 and 7 to prepare my heart for Him, and asking Him to purify me from these things that make Him sad.
I journal every morning a question to God, and then I write His answer back to me in the space beneath my question. This method of journaling is called “two-way prayer.” It’s a 12-step tool designed to “improve our conscious contact with God.” I’ve been doing this for more than a year now and have been blessed by the exercise.
In my morning’s journal a few days ago, I asked God specifically how I could remove my distrust of Him and others “starting today.” He told me in my written answer to the question to recognize a flaw in my thinking. He told me to “stop cowering against blows that never come.” He told me that I am a “slave to my own imagination,” and then He challenged me with His own question: “Are you so full of pride that you believe you can actually control people and outcomes?” He finished His answer by assuring me that His “record of success is flawless,” and that He “loves me so much” He would never allow anything but “the best” for me, and that even if I “perceived a flaw in the plan,” I was to “take comfort” knowing that He has the “full picture” and “works all things out” to my good.
What peace I experienced that morning! Do not blow off Steps 6 and 7. Pray through them in earnest. By the time you reach Amends, you will be ready for His complete healing.