Step 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
I had a Catholic friend tell me recently that I was sounding more Catholic these days, especially in a recent Catch where I talked about dealing with sin as a progression in our lives (see “Meeting sin head-on”). I love it when I hear that. I love it when Lutherans tell me I’m sounding more Lutheran, Baptists tell me I’m sounding more Baptist, Anglicans tell me I’m sounding more Anglican — you see where I’m going with this. (I’ve even had Mormons tell me I’m sounding more Mormon.) That’s because we all have the truth, the only difference being that each discipline emphasizes a certain part of the truth. So that if you are speaking the whole truth, you will be touching on all of them while sounding more like each one by the minute. Comments like that tell me I’m on the right track.
Speaking of Catholics, though, I think the twelve steps, at times, do sound rather Catholic. Like step 11 that emphasizes having constant contact with God. What with daily mass, continual confession of sins, and commitment to a sponsor (a priest?), Catholics do sound a lot like twelve steppers.
But today, however, I’m going to sound more like a Baptist when I talk about living and walking in the Word of God as a means of having constant contact with Him. I don’t think the Word of God is necessarily cumulative, as in, the knowledge of God grows as we stack more word upon word. The implication could be that you eventually don’t need the Word every day because you already know it. That is just not true. The Word of God, more than anything, is communication. We talk to God and God talks to us through the Scriptures. So if you want to have conscious contact with God, you need to take the Word of God with you and experience it in some way every day, if you can.
Arnold and I experienced God yesterday through the gospel of John, chapter 4, and the story of the woman at the well. We had actually started in John a few weeks ago when Arnold wanted to take a little side trip through the Book of Revelation. I have to admit that after beasts with seven heads, raining fire from heaven and multi-colored horsemen leaving a river of blood, talking with a Samaritan woman about water by a well is a bit of a let down. But then you encounter the joy of the Lord as He brings a Samaritan woman to belief in Him, and you start to share in His excitement.
“But I say, wake up and look around,” He told His disciples as He saw the whole town of Sychar making its way up to Him, their white turbans gleaming in the sun. “The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!” (John 4:35-36).
Jesus has just seen a woman forgiven and entering into eternal life out of one conversation with Him, and she’s so excited, she forgot her water jar and ran into her nearby village rounding up everyone who wanted to come see a man who told her everything she’d ever done. “Could he possibly be the Messiah?” His disciples try to get Jesus to eat some lunch, but He is so taken by the prospect of setting a woman, and potentially a whole town, free, that He tells them he has food to eat they know nothing of.
Note: This is part of the wonderful grace of Jesus as John records it in the first 4 chapters of his gospel. This may not be the actual order of events, but the order as John wants to tell it, and I believe it says something about the nature of the Messiah no one was expecting. His first miracle was to keep the wine flowing at a wedding (good wine, too!). His first convert was a Samaritan woman, divorced five times and currently living with a man she wasn’t married to (Jews considered Samaritans dogs), and his first healing was of the son of a Roman official (a gentile). This is going to be a wild ride.