I ended up in the hospital last week for the first time in my life. This incident occurred during the week of my 11th anniversary of being clean & sober and 2 months before my 45th birthday. I guess that sets the stage for a little introspection on my part.
Last night I was reading the Queries from the Journal of The NC Yearly Meeting (Conservative) and I was really impressed by their simplicity and directness and I knew this was something I needed to start using as a tool to take regular stock of my own life. (The queries can be read here starting on page 38 of the PDF).
It seems that every time I've been in silent worship at the Quaker Meeting for the past 4 months that one word has come to my mind consistently and stronger than all of the other words I concern my head with. That word has been faith.
Jesus says a few things about faith in the Bible; probably the most famous quote is this:
He replied, ?Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ?Move from here to there? and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.?
I don't think Jesus was kidding around here. We have examples of people in this world who have moved mountains through their faith. Millard Fuller of Habitat for Humanity comes immediately to mind as does Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a list of others.
There was a time in my life where I believed that God walked every step of every day with me. This was during the early years of my sobriety and it was an indescribable feeling. Ironically as I received more gifts in my life because of this relationship with God I started feeling like I had lost my connection to God. My unease with religion came back, I started questioning why does God walk with me and let other's die from the same disease? Why does God let the truly evil (Bush, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, the Religious Right, my Brother-In-Law, fill in any number of names here) thrive while the good perish? This type of math makes me lose my faith.
Now as I struggle to slowly get little bits and pieces of my faith back I need to remember that faith is not logical and does not conform to such tests as I've laid out in the last paragraph. The only true test of faith is to see its effects in my life, which when I am looking are plain to see.
There is another divinely inspired group of texts that I refer to every so often. They served as a bridge back to faith for me the first time and along with my new found Quaker practice will help to lead me back again. In regards to faith, AA?s 12 Steps and Traditions has this to say which I think is the most amazing description of the work required to have faith:
"Fortunately we who have tried it, and with equal misgivings, can testify that anyone, anyone at all, can begin to do it. We can further add that a beginning, even the smallest, is all that is needed. Once we have placed the key of willingness in the lock and have the door ever so slightly open we find we can always open it some more. Thought self-will may slam it shut as it frequently does, it will always respond the moment again we pick up the key of willingness."
Brilliantly simple: faith, which is hard to acquire can be set in motion by an act of willingness which is much easier to grasp and act on. The Big Book of AA goes on to show us a practical way to put this willingness into motion:
We were now at Step Three. Many of us said to our Maker, as we understood Him: "God, I offer myself to Thee -- to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!" We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him.