Follower: the 7th step

Someone once said that Jesus has left the door into the Kingdom of God wide open but it’s a very low door, you can only enter on your knees.

Humility isn’t a character trait we value much in ourselves but we look for it in others.

To follow requires humility. To follow assumes you don’t know where you are going and you’ve given up on the idea of doing it yourself. The absence of humility is what gets me lost for a whole half hour after my wife first said, “We should stop and ask directions.” The presence of humility is what left us with a beautifully renovated bathroom after my initial conviction of “I can do this myself and save some money” gave way to “Let’s call somebody to help us on this…”

The thing is, I’m the only one who believes the illusion of self-sufficiency I work so hard to maintain. Everybody else knows I need help even if they’re not nice enough to tell me to my face.

Being a follower takes us to a step with God that becomes a daily reality.

7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

The simple truth is that it’s easy to ask, it’s harder to do it humbly. “Humbly” requires me to be convinced that I really am as bad off as all that. My reptilian brain keeps telling me I’m not. “At least I’m better than…” or “Well, at least I’m not like….” are certain proofs that we haven’t hit the bottom and we don’t yet accept reality. I’ve got nothing on nobody.

I ask convinced of my humanness and my tendency to be oblivious to just what those shortcomings might actually be. What I am convinced of is my complete inability to do this myself.

I think John Newton nailed it – I think that’s why this song continues to resonates after all these years…truth is like that.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

T’was Grace that taught…
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear…
the hour I first believed.

The key isn’t to be obsessed with our shortcomings. I know people who are consumed with making a list and going introspective guerrilla to make sure every rock is turned over in pursuit of the elusive shortcoming that didn’t get uncovered yet. Our shortcomings, if we’re following, will become very clear. The key to the step isn’t obsession, it’s asking humbly when every, or whenever, a shortcoming is raised.

Which is easier for you – making the list or asking for help?

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About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in 12 steps, Church, denial, faith, God, Life, recovery, theology. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Follower: the 7th step

  1. Judy says:

    I remember when I did my 4th Step. I looked at Steps 4, 5, 6 and 7 (by then I had them memorized because I’d heard them read at meetings so often) and they all seemed to go together, like a process. After the initial list was made, which for me wasn’t easy because it was so long, I “five-six-and-sevened” each piece with God, no matter how long that took. That way I got a lot of practice in asking Him for help – because I needed a lot of practice for it to become ingrained in me. It was a lesson I needed to learn and relearn and relearn – many times. I still need to do it because I keep screwing up. Being on my knees hurts. It’s meant to hurt. I have to want this. A LOT. I have to know deep inside, to concede to my innermost self (as the Big Book says) of the hopelessness and futility of life as I had been living it.

    To coin a line from an Indiana Jones movie, “Only the penitent will pass” – it’s true. I would also say, “Only the desperate will pass.” Desperation motivates penitence.

    But God is always waiting there. He hasn’t – and will never – fail to love, to forgive, to uphold, to persevere, to empower. He gives the strength to ask for His help. Then He helps. It sounds simple because … it is. There is no way I can take credit for something He alone accomplishes. I’m not even sure how He does it; I don’t need to be. All I know is that every time, He does … and I’m so grateful He does.

    • TJ says:

      So, so, so very well put…and all summed up with “It sounds simple because…it is”.

      • brianmpei says:

        I think the simplicity is often off-putting for those of us who want to earn this – another form of control. There must be more to it! And we get lost trying to complicate what has been simply given. The wisdom of God still seems like foolishness – even to men who intend to follow (i’m not saying a word about women…).

  2. Brent says:

    “To follow assumes you don’t know where you are going and you’ve given up on the idea of doing it yourself.” I agree with the second part . . . the first, not so much. To follow when not knowing where you’re going is to follow blindly. To follow when you know where you’re going, but are unable to get there by yourself and are willing to trust your future to someone else is faith.

    • brianmpei says:

      I’m not sure you can know where you’re going if you haven’t been there yourself and I think Jesus has that territory pretty well staked out for us. I don’t think it’s blind faith if your trust is in the person you’re following – in this case, Jesus– but it’s definitely blind faith if it’s in a destination and you know the driver is going the wrong way! 😉 And as for the journey of following Jesus, only he knows the path he’ll take me on from here to there – and I’m glad!

  3. Donna Wigmore says:

    To follow requires humility. To follow assumes you don’t know where you are going and you’ve given up on the idea of doing it yourself.
    This is going up on my door frame. I keep forgetting how much I need help, try to be in control, insist on not asking Him for directions. WHY!! Why can’t I stay awake?
    And I’ll put this up in my apartment and it will work for a short time, only by God’s grace will I be able to let it disarm me.

  4. Judy says:

    Something I thought about tonight when I was with some folks who are dear to me is this – It’s one thing to have Jesus be a part of my life, to let Him be resident in my heart. It’s quite another to give Him control over everything – to let Him be President .

    The first compartmentalizes Him, relegates Him to just a corner, a closet, or maybe even a room of my spiritual house. The second signs over to Him the deed to the whole property.

  5. Judy says:

    Oops, didn’t mean to bold everything – just “resident” and “President.”

    • Judy says:

      aaaggh! Thanks, Lord for keeping me humble – (grin)

      • brianmpei says:

        Haha! I don’t even know how to bold any of it so you’re doing pretty good! That certainly gives “I asked Jesus into my heart…” a whole different meaning! He doesn’t just want in, he wants the whole thing! That’s something to ponder…

  6. Judy says:

    How do I turn this thing off?

    Hope that worked cuz it looked like I bolded everyone’s responses (sorry – cringe)…
    Great chatting with you yesterday – thanks for your encouragement!!

  7. Chaz says:

    As I experience it, a critical trait of humility is balance. I find it to be a place suspended between knowing your own capabilities, using them to their fullest and constantly surrendering the big picture of my life to God.

    For me, gratitude is the key to keeping my capabilities in the right perspective and thereby not allowing them to take over the big picture. And is this not the ticky balance as we grow, mature and recover? God gives us new strengths, wisdom, and abilities. We are not robots. With these strengths, wisdom, and abilities, we can often be tempted to say, “Thanks God, I’ll take it from here”.

    Humility to me is often expressed as saying instead, “Thanks God, what do you want me to do with these gifts next”?

    Ciao

    Chaz

    • brianmpei says:

      I think that’s exactly it Chaz – “Thanks God, I’ll take it from here…” is the constant temptation to reclaim the illusion of control. “What next…” is the question! The Big Book talks about this simple formula, ask God every day what he wants you to do that day and do it.

  8. Chaz says:

    Ya Brian… I think it is an outworking of “your will, not mine, be done”. Which of course is nothing new. Funny how this simple instruction from thousands of years ago is still being discovered today.

    I went to church for years but took an alcohol and life problem to really learn its meaning.

    I posted on it back April… resulted in a lot of discussion. Here it is if you care to take a look. http://yuppieaddict.wordpress.com/2010/04/30/thanks-god-ill-take-it-from-here/

    I like your blog. Will pop by again.

    Ciao.

    Chaz

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