Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Conversations with God: 11/14/2007

I believe in God, no doubt about it. Do not confuse my belief with the fact that I am religious. I am not a member of a religious group, if you ask if I believe in Christ as our Saviour, no I believe he was an exceptional person brought to this earth to adapt a belief system. There have been other exceptional persons in this world, none perhaps with the impact of Jesus, but then at the time his impact wasn't so great. It was after his death that the power of Jesus became significant. At the time of his death society thought him a trouble maker and rabble rouser. Enough, this is not a comment on Jesus, his mission or purpose. This is about my conversations with God.

One skill God possesses that I've never found in any other being is the ability to listen. I talk, God listens. Does he answer prayers? Yes, every prayer is answered. The answer may not be to our liking, but upon reflection the answer is the best at the time and given the circumstances.

I was raised in the Methodist Church. In my middle adult years I was active in church activities. What kind of an event could change my thought process? The change was a simple one, noticed by very few yet profound in its impact on me. I am a recovering alcoholic, I have been sober for almost twenty-one years. Bill W., the founder of AA, wrote a book we drunks call "The Big Book." It is kin to the bible for our special group. In the book Bill recounts his relief from the urge to drink as a miracle. He was confined to a hospital bed in a New York City hospital for perhaps the fifteenth time and was hopeless in his fight against his disease. Bill asked again for God to relieve him of the urge to drink. That night a light entered his room, his body became warm with the healing salvation of God the urge to drink was removed, never to return again.

Now for those who don't have a drinking problem you may not understand how powerful the "urge" is. Those who smoke crack certainly can understand the physical addiction drugs can possess, well alcohol is similar and creates a power psychological need. Many alcoholics go through life fighting the urge to drink every day of their lives and that is why AA is so important as a tool to combat that urge. Some people are relieved of the urge to drink and while AA remains important they are able to devote some time to developing coping skills so life does not remain so overwhelming.

Some twenty-one years ago I was going through the travails of a marriage breaking up, an adulterous affair, a job that was going nowhere, and compounding everything was "john barleycorn." Finally in a token effort at reconciliation with my wife I agreed to undergo counseling for my drinking. When I met the counselor he doubted my ability to quit because I had a few beers the day before. I even told him I doubted my own desire to quit. The counselor then explain "the contract." The contract is a pact with God, a God of my understanding, each day, or every five minutes, whatever was required to not drink for that period. The man said, each day when you arise sit by yourself, open yourself up to God and ask him to help you through the day without drinking. All I want you to do is to not drink today. Can you do that? Sure, anyone can quit for a day. The counselor then went on to tell me that each day must begin with the same commitment to not drink, sealing the pact with a promise to God and a plea for his help in getting through the day. It sounds easy, but fact is an overwhelming number of alcoholics are unable to make this commitment day in and day out and relapse. Apparently I was more desperate than I thought I was, or I was open to God that day because he removed the urge to drink at that moment. That event does not often happen and the fight against alcohol remains a lifetime battle. Why me?

Well, why not? However the thought arose in my mind that day that I did not ask Jesus to relieve my urge to drink. I asked God. I did not fall on my knees, I did not spread my arms in supplication and beg to be relieved. I cannot even tell you a phrase I uttered, I do know that God relieved my urge to drink, it was gone and has never returned twenty-one years later. Now you know the event that changed my life.

I was 42 years old, I loved booze. I liked the taste, I liked the way it made me sociable, I like the way it helped me forget my problems. Yet it controlled my life. I could not cope with life without alcohol. I guess God understood my problem even when I didn't. So from that day forward the thought arose in my mind that it was God, not Jesus or Buddha, or some other figure associated with religions that relieved my urge to drink. The "Big Boy" himself had intervened.

So now you know why I talk to God, he listens. If you are real quiet, and don't bias your understanding with personal wishes sometimes he even answers in a fashion I can understand. It is not a voice, it is not some external mechanism that provides me with the answer, it is just an understanding that I have been answered and it is OK.

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