As We Understood Him – Taking Step 3

In our 3rd step “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

One very interesting fact of this step is that the amount or degree of our lives and will, we are able to turn over to God, will be determined by the amount or degree of our understanding of Him.

Many of our brothers and sisters came into the program as Atheists or Agnostics. In the 4th chapter of the Big Book of A.A, titled “We Agnostics” we read the following “Instead of regarding ourselves as intelligent agents, spearheads of God’s ever advancing Creation, we agnostics and atheists chose to believe that our human intelligence was the last word, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of all. Rather vain of us, wasn’t it? We, who have traveled this dubious path, beg you to lay aside prejudice, even against organized religion.”

Some may say, how can anyone expect a person, to turn over his/her life and will to a God that they don’t even believe in? Well with man this feat is quite impossible, but with God all things are possible, you see the good news is that He doesn’t need you to start your journey of recovering with some sort of mega faith. We read in 2 Timothy 2:13 that “If we are faithless (void of faith), He remains faithful (full of faith), for He cannot deny Himself.” Be reminded that God didn’t need any type of material source to create the heavens and the earth! No, He just spoke it and it was.

Now let’s zoom into the word UNDERSTOOD, it refers to an action or state in or as in the pass tense. In other words my understanding of God should not be the same as when I first understood Him.

My understanding of my natural father has increased greatly from how I understood him as a child. Do you recall your adolescence or as Bill Cosby calls it “our brain dead years?” When our parents seemed so, you know, so un-hip and unable to reach the pinnacle of knowledge of life, which we had supernaturally obtained. Isn’t funny how, that over the years our ego has slowly deflated, as we have had to humbly confess to all, that they did know what was going on? We were just too brain dead to know it.

Today, I honor my parents who at 84 years old still impart a large source of comfort and wisdom to my siblings and me.

It’s safe to say that the same rule applies with our understanding of God. Sadly many people have had a negative physical, emotional or spiritual experienced with a religious group, person or even a parent that has left a tainted view of God. Driven by FEAR of being hurt again, they ran from Him who is the essence of our very being. The unfortunate reality of this action was that they ran into the open arms of the ravenous wolves of our Godless and merciless sociality.

But aren’t we told that, “The FEAR of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom?” Psalm 111:10 Yes that is true, but, once again, because of the lack of understanding of a word we shortchanged ourselves of a meaningful and fulfilled life. This word in actuality means to have REVERENCE for Him. I liken God to electricity; if you have ever touched a live wire you will instantly learn to have reverence for its power. But when used with understanding, we can relax on our electric self-massaging couch in our air-conditioned room watching T.V. eating our favorite meal, which was cooked on our electric stove. Better yet we can become a lighthouse to guide those who still suffer to safe harbor. That’s why it’s written in Psalm 112:1 “How blessed (happy) is the man who fears (reveres) the Lord?”

I will never forget the loneness and the pain of substance abuse and though I don’t live-in the past that memory has served to be the motivating force, which has kept me on the cutting edge encouraging those who want positive change in their life. My wrong choices brought me so much pain and shame, where I just wanted to crawl into a dark hole and die. But it was there in that darkness that God’s Word became “a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Psalm119:105 And it’s been on this illuminated journey called life that He has proven Himself to be a Shield from the storm, and when I get discouraged my God is the one who lifts up my head. Oh yes, my friends, He has proven Himself a friend that sticks closer than a brother and is a presence help in the time of trouble, you see, it was in my brokenness that He become my healer and deliverer.

The crescendo of my understanding of God Almighty is that He is my Heavenly Father and that He loves me! He loves us all! Be comforted in knowing His loves goes beyond lip service, for we are told in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners (stained with certain definite vices or crimes), Christ died for us.” If we can be honest with ourselves we must acknowledge that we were/are slaves to destructive vices and crimes, but it was at our worst; busted with our hands in the cookie jar that God demonstrated His love for us.

For that I am grateful to the God of my understanding, and my prayer is that one-day we all can proclaim with confidence these words of faith written by the great servant of God, the one called Paul of Tarsus, 2 Timothy 1:12:

“For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted (my life and will) to Him until that day.”

Your friend always on the journey,

Joe A. Rivera
Temecula, CA