Happy Birthday, Mark

Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Man and his sea

We are — all of us — living a life that involves a good deal of pain and struggle. Some of it we caused — some of it we didn’t — it doesn’t seem to matter. Given, some struggles seem small and insignificant compared to others, but any difficulty or hardship can be huge if it’s yours. It’s all relative. Shall we get our stories together so we can figure out who has the worst life? That would be a waste of time. A struggle is a struggle. My little battle with the Catch yesterday brought out a number of comments, I’m sure, because it connected with a number of you and you felt compelled to write. Whenever I write about something difficult I’m going through, be it Chandler’s treatment or my issues with parenting, it seems like a whole bunch of you come out of the woodwork and start telling your stories.

The process which drives us to Step Three will always be a painful one. I guarantee it will not be because we are having a stellar day. “Wow, I feel so good today, I think I’ll turn my life over to Jesus! The birds are singing and everything is coming up roses, couldn’t think of a better time!” Not!

This is the value of this 12-Step study and why I wanted to take it. AA provides people with a place to struggle. In AA, struggling is the rule. It’s how you get in. It’s the qualification. In Christianity, it’s the exception to the rule. “So sorry to hear you’re going through a tough time. We’ll pray for you.”

If we don’t provide people with a place to struggle, we’re not going to have anyone turning their life over to the Lord. We’re just going to have a whole bunch of people trying to be good Christians, and what good is that? The extent to which church is a social club for good Christians is the extent to which it is pretty useless to help anyone.

It’s inevitable: you guys connect when I touch the pain. That’s when the stories pour forth.

Marti’s brother has a birthday today. Marti hasn’t really known too much about the spiritual life of her brother until later in life. A large part of that, I’m sure is what he has been through. He’s lost two wives, weathered some very lean years with his business and survived a near-fatal accident and a stroke that has left him a little slow of speech, but all the time we didn’t know that his faith was deepening. Now we share a common bond with the Lord. Had Mark coasted through most of life, I don’t think that would have happened.

Last week Marti asked him what he wanted for his birthday. His answer was swift and clean as if he’d been thinking about it: “Make a donation in my name to the Catch Ministry.” That made us cry. So today we join the rest of you who are donating to the Catch. Ours is in Mark’s name. Happy Birthday Mark!

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8 Responses to Happy Birthday, Mark

  1. Mark D Seguin says:

    Love the AA step 3 and Happy Birthday to you, Mark and remember you’re getting better, not just older. 🙂 ❤

  2. Carole Oglesbee says:

    “How can we provide more opportunity for people to struggle?” Now THAT just jumped off the page at me! A typo, maybe? DId John mean “provide more opportunity for people WHO struggle”? Don’t we ALL struggle enough? Isn’t that why we’re in the Catch? Isn’t struggle what brought us here doing this 12-step thing? Hmmm…maybe it’s NOT a typo…maybe we need an opportunity to struggle SO much that we are driven to surrender – maybe what we need then, is the FREEDOM to surrender. (Gosh, I wish italics and bold worked in “comments”!) Keith Green, in his song, “When I Hear the Praises Start” wrote:
    My son, my son, why are you striving
    You can’t add one thing to what’s been done for you
    I did it all while I was dying
    Rest in your faith, my peace will come to you
    But what GETS me to the point of surrender? Being overwhelmed by the struggle to the point there is nothing left to hold onto, no way out, no one left to rescue me, and FINALLY, I cry out, “God, help me!” not at all sure that he WILL (faith takes time to develop, y’all), but knowing that, for me, the fight is over either way. What happens next is in His Hands, not mine. Welcome to Step 3.

    • jwfisch says:

      Okay Carole, you got me. I was in a bit of a hurry this morning. It was supposed to be “more opportunity for people to have a place to struggle.” How can we be more welcoming to those who struggle. You got it, though.

      • Sandie says:

        John – I think you had it right the first time – we need to give people more room to struggle. We are so busy trying to pray others (and ourselves) OUT of struggles and trying to ‘fix’ things, that we are in danger of depriving us, and them, of working through struggles that bring us to God initially, and keep us coming back to Him. Oswald Chambers warns against this kind of Christian sentimentality regarding intercessory prayer. Human nature seeks the easy way out every time; I count myself among the guilty. But when I struggle to possess a hard-won victory and truth…you better believe I don’t take it lightly, and I fight to hold on to it and build on it. We are to walk alongside and help as the Spirit leads; we aren’t supposed to be in the ‘rescuing’ business. We’re not supposed to get in God’s way, no matter how much it hurts to watch the struggle.

  3. Jesus Aguilar says:

    i am ever so grateful for John to have the insight and bring the AA steps and Church together. We have been for 83 years but not on the open up. We are many believers in the rooms and we have learned to be respectful of others and we share that God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
    I am reading all your comments and I am learning that not only the struggling alcoholics, have problems surrendering to God’s Will, so helpful to read that even the evangelicals have the same problems, We are not much different, and we all concur that Jesus is Lord and our Savior and Deliverer and if he is with us, who can be against us?

    • Sandie says:

      We are all humans Jesus – any Christian who says he doesn’t sin is a liar; “we deceive ourselves and the truth is not found in us.” 1John1:8,9 says so – it also says that ‘if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That was written to believers.Thank God the Lord Jesus is with us…otherwise we would be destroyed.Blessings to you brother!

  4. jwfisch says:

    Beautiful, Jesus. Thank you. We need your perspective.

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