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Old 12-30-2014, 09:43 AM   #1
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Default Step Three

About Step 3

"Like all the remaining Steps, Step Three calls for affirmative action, for it is only by action that we can cut away the self-will which has always blocked the entry of God - or, if you like, a Higher Power - into our lives. Faith, to be sure, is necessary, but faith alone can avail nothing. We can have faith, yet keep God out of our lives. Therefore our problem now becomes just how and by what specific means shall we be able to let Him in? Step Three represents our first attempt to do this. In fact, the effectiveness of the whole A.A. program will rest upon how well and earnestly we have tried to come to 'a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him'." [Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, AA World Services, 1953]

"Billy Graham tells a story that beautifully illustrates how faith necessarily entails trust, which is needed as we move beyond the belief of Step Two into the commitment of Step Three. To paraphrase the story: A brave man pushes a wheelbarrow back and forth along a tightrope suspended high above Niagra Falls. The crowd watches in astonishment as the agile acrobat continues to push the wheelbarrow back and forth over the deadly, roaring falls. Then the man places a 200-pound sack of dirt in the wheelbarrow and boldly makes his way across the falls, pushing the heavy load through the misty air. Making his way back, the tightrope walker points to a man in the crowd and asks, "Do you believe I can push a man in the wheelbarrow across the falls?" The excited onlooker says, "Yes, of course." The acrobat points directly at the man and says, "Get in!" Step Three is about getting into the wheelbarrow." [Martin M. Davis, The Gospel and the Twelve Steps, RPI Publications, 1993]

"Many Christians live their lives as if God is their servant and will help them attain their goals. They believe that when we pray "Lord, help me to do this thing (whatever it is)," he will do it if the request is moral and not aimed at harming another. . .Some people try to do Step Three this way, as if God runs some sort of "emergency crew" we can call on when all else fails or when our control of a specific situation or person starts slipping. . .As I began to look at this unexamined prayer process, I could see that I'd gotten things all turned around. I hadn't been turning my life and my will over to God at all - except in some general abstract way. I had been making use of God as a sort of cosmic employee to help me do what I had already decided needed doing - which was my will for other people and myself." [Keith Miller, A Hunger for Healing, Harper,1991]

Step 3: Related Biblical Themes

* Made a decision. The action of this step is to make a decision. Actually turning our lives over to God is a long process and the rest of the Steps provide some helpful tools for doing this. But that is not what Step Three is about. Step Three is decision time. You may not yet have a clue about how to implement the decision. But if you know that you can't do what needs to be done, and you have come to believe that God could do what needs to be done, then Step Three is the decision to let God give it a try.

"I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him."
Deuteronomy 30:19

* To turn. The word 'surrender' often comes up in connection with Step Three. This can be a helpful way to describe what this Step is like. It is a decision to give up on our own will and to surrender our will to a higher Power. The danger of using the word 'surrender' is that we usually use this word in a military context - we surrender to an enemy. But that's not what happens in Step Three - we surrender to a loving and grace-full God whose power is available to help us, not hurt us. There are lots of other ways in which the Bible pictures our need to 'turn.' Repentance is a turning away from sin towards God. Jesus captured the heart of Step Three when he said "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." [Matthew 10:39] Some of the biblical pictures of 'turning' might sound like bad news (surrendering, submitting, losing) but the Bible consistently pictures it as a relief. When we have exhausted ourselves trying to carry our own burdens, God invites us to turn the burdens over to Him.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord".
Acts 3:19

* our will and our lives By the time most of us get to Step Three it is very clear that recovery will involve a major restructuring of our lives. We have been turning our lives over to alcohol, or to drugs, or to food, or to work or to whatever - we have made decision after decision to turn our lives over to things that did not satisfy. And, in the end, we found that we had no willpower left to control the process. In Step Three we make a decision to turn our broken wills and our broken lives over to God in the hope that God will be able to do a better job of managing our lives than we have.

"Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground."
Psalm 143:10

* As we understood him.
Some Christians find this phrase to be the most problematic in the Twelve Steps. Some 'Christianized' versions of the Twelve Steps delete "as we understood him" or change it to read "through Jesus Christ." This may be helpful to people whose faith is already informed by biblical revelation. It is important to remember, however, that this Step is not intended to be anything but a theological kindergarten. The expression "as we understood him" is not here to suggest that our subjective understanding of God can be trusted. Far from it! Most of us arrive at this Step with incredibly distorted images of God. The point of this phrase is to introduce some theological humility to the process. It is an acknowledgment that our understanding may be misguided. We may have the wrong idea about God. This can be just as true for those of us who affirm that Jesus is our Higher Power as it is for someone who has picked a doorknob as their Higher Power. We all have a lot to learn! If we don't think we have a lot to learn then we probably need to work some more on Steps One and Two before proceeding with Step Three. The whole Twelve Step process is about a spiritual transformation. Our understanding about God will be changed dramatically in the process.
"No matter what you have done up to this moment, you get 24 brand-new hours to spend every single day." --Brian Tracy
AA gives us an opportunity to recreate ourselves, with God's help, one day at a time. --Rufus K.
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. --Franklin D. Roosevelt
We stay sober and clean together - one day at a time!
God says that each of us is worth loving.
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