Sunday, November 2, 2014

The care of God

For the last seven years, I've come to know a lot of people who are in a process they call recovery. The thing they are in recovery from is some sort of addiction: whether to alcohol, drugs, prescription pills, gambling, shopping or trying to control other people's behavior through either intimidation or care-taking. 

They all follow - to some degree or other - a program of recovery called the Twelve Steps. I won't recite them - other sites have done a much better job at it than I can, but at its core, the 12-step program of recovery is a blueprint for people who have been burnt by religion and who don't know how (but who know they need it or they will die) to develop a relationship with God. 

The backbone of the 12-step program is in the third step; it is the hingepin on which all the other steps turn. The first two steps naturally lead to the third. After the addict has come to (1) admit that he or she can't fight the addiction, and after he or she has (2) conceded to the existence of a power greater than himself or herself, and that only that power can restore his or her sanity, the third step is to "[give] our will and our lives over to the care of God ... praying only for a knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." 

For a lot of people that's scary stuff, because they've been taught all their lives that God is some big ogre that loves nothing more than to squash them like bugs or strike them with thunderbolts of damnation. They've been taught this by (unfortunately) their previous experiences with people who claim to be experts on spiritual matters.

I was talking to one such person this morning, who - through desperation and the firm knowledge that there was nothing he could do to beat the monster within - finally took that plunge and turned his will and his life over to the care of God. What he had found so intimidating was turning his life over to God, the very one he had been taught was that celestial sadist who caused - or at least allowed - all of the bad stuff in his life to happen. But then he noticed that this was not what Step 3 said!! Instead, it was all about turning one's will and one's life over to THE CARE OF GOD. 

Photo "Loving Father And His Baby" provided by
David Castillo Dominici at
In essence, he had to fire the god he had been taught to believe in as a child. He had to realize that his childhood god was small and petty and nit-picky, vindictive and cruel. Instead, he came to believe in the Real God, the One who LOVED him, the one who CARED. The One Whose real character Jesus came to demonstrate. The One who dotes on us, who leans in close to smell that "baby smell" as we sleep, the One who delights in us, the One who thrills in His heart when we speak His name, the One who - as one author once said - "would rather die than live without us." (Paul Ellis) And that's precisely what He did - He died because He didn't want to live without us.

It's THIS God that this man believes in. It's THIS God that he trusts. And THIS God - the TRUE God - is becoming more and more dear to this man as time goes on.

Every day now for the last five and a half years or so, he has prayed this prayer, or one very much like it: "God, I gratefully turn my will and my life over to Your care, today. This 24-hour period is Yours, and whatever happens in it, I pray that You would take care of it, let me know what it is I can do as I go through it, and give me the strength to do whatever You lead me to do, just for today.

I asked him about that word gratefully. (It's not specifically mentioned in the Third Step.) I wondered about that - out loud - to him. And he told me, "It's about that 24-hour period. It's today. I can gratefully give Him 24 hours. I can't speak for the rest of my life or into next week or even tomorrow. Whatever happens in that one day, whether it means that I scrub toilets or drive someone to an appointment or even breathe my last breath, I know that it will be God's will for me. And I can be grateful because I KNOW that He will take care of it. He's got this, He'll do this for me, He's already provided me the strength and all I do is walk in it. I know because He's done it for me before, and today He'll do it again. And I know that without His loving care for me, I would be sunk, without hope. So I am grateful for the answer to that prayer being carried out in my life for today. Because it's all I have." 

I know a lot of theology and all that stuff. But his simple answer simply floored me. There was a lot in it, and there still is. 

The care of God. 

God cares. 

He's not waiting with a club to thump me if I get it wrong; He looks after me and cares for me because I am His child (because and ONLY because of Jesus!). As a matter of fact, He has provided everything I'll need for each day, for each and EVERY day, to live in love, in peace, in freedom, in gratitude, in ... in joy!  

That's something worth thinking on ... something worth being grateful for.


  1. At the risk or breaking anonymity....thank you for putting into words what I never could.

    1. You are welcome, "Anonymous." You are one. special. dude.