The notion that we would still live our own lives, God helping a little now and then, began to evaporate. Many of us who had thought ourselves religious awoke to the limitations of this attitude. Refusing to place God first, we had deprived ourselves of His help. But now the words “Of myself I am nothing, the Father doeth the works” began to carry bright promise and meaning.
I’ve addressed the question and concept of God and the higher power in several other places. I’m so sorry that it turns some people off to the life-altering program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I want to stress again that no one is required to say or believe anything at all, and everyone who has a problem with alcohol should give the program a shot.
I arrived there disbelieving just about all my church and “religious” upbringing had told me to be true. As I didn’t drink and practiced the program I came to believe in a power greater than me, and I call that power God. I became willing and able to return to church, though I don’t believe much of what goes on there. In my life there has come to be a greater reason and understanding of all this.
I once told the pastor of my church almost every Sunday, she said something that fit my circumstances and something that reiterated to me what I am to do and why I am to do it. She said that she didn’t say those things, that it is God working through her. I’ve had a friend thank me for introducing her and her partner to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I can say that I did not introduce it to them, that God did it through me. Really I suspect that they had many previous opportunities to change their lives in this way. For whatever reason, in that time and place, I was there when they were ready. By living the program I could have that solution ready to give to them when they were ready to take it.
There are other good works that I do. My career and my work days are filled with good works, but it is only because I have been blessed with abilities and means that I can use these things to benefit others. As I write, five (5!) “rescued” animals tell me that according to their calculations, it is time for dinner. In supporting AA, in caring for people with disabilities, in providing for the formerly homeless animals, I do what I feel to be God’s will for me. And for them.
The rewards for these things cannot be measured. They exist in my material possessions and in a quality of life for me that is beyond anything I could have imagined. That’s one way I understand the phrase above that inverts to tell me that by putting God first, I am able to receive God’s help.
I see that I was very narrow minded to condemn organized religion the way I did. I was also narrow minded to condemn religious people. That’s something I continue to struggle with, especially when their “religion” teaches that my life, my life style, my very being is “wrong.” I have to continue to try and accept that there are parts of this puzzle I will never see.
One of the best ways I have to put God first is to continue to practice the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Before I got sober, I was a menace to society. I risked my life and yours by driving drunk. At the very least, I would have been a burden to society, and I had no prospect of supporting myself for any length of time. By doing this I hopefully give. I won’t be so prideful as to say that I give more than I take.