The Second Step: Who is God?

August 10, 2006

From the LDS Addiction Recovery Manual:

Step 2: Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health

I like the way that the second step is worded in the manual because it reminds the reader of something important: God has power. Most LDS addicts accept that God, in theory, is loving. We’ve felt the Spirit. We sat through Primary, Young Womens, and Young Mens. We understand the concept of God’s love.

The problem is that we may have a hard time believing that He loves us. Why? Well, we’ve hurt His Son, Jesus Christ, by our excessive sinning. We’ve turned our back on Him. We have done things that can only mean that our eternal salvation is in jeopardy. Therefore, He probably doesn’t think too highly of us anymore.

Now, I won’t deny that God may, on occasion (or often), be disappointed with our decisions. He doesn’t want us to sin. However, sometimes we mistake His motivation in this. God doesn’t want us to sin because He wants us back and sin makes it harder for us to return. Sometimes people think that there is a grand, eternal ledger, with surpluses and deficits in it, that God has to balance in order to keep the universe working or something. But God is our great, eternal Bookkeeper. He is our Heavenly Father. His motivation is that He wants us back. Each and Every one of us. No true father abandons his children or turns his back on them. Neither does God.

Getting back to power, this is a sticking point for a lot of us. Sure, God is all-powerful. We hear that all the time in church. However, we have prayed. A lot. An awful lot. Our prayers have been ineffective. Maybe God can’t or doesn’t want to help us out with this.

Hopefully, I’ve dealt with God’s lack of desire a couple of paragraphs ago (go back and read it again if necessary). Regarding his lack of power, consider the God that we profess belief in. He has divided the Red Sea, moved mountains, raised people from the dead, and fed thousands with only a few loaves of bread. He created the earth and the heavens. He is our source, our Father, our Alpha and Omega. Fine, you may say, but what does any of that have to do with me. I don’t need a mountain moved; I need to be free of my addiction.

One of the things that we expressly teach in the church is that God has the power to remove our stumblingblocks, that God has the power to remove us from bondage. The story of the people of Limhi is instructive here. Being surrounded by the Lamanites, the Limhiites decided to fight their way out of bondage. They tried their hardest, but their strength was insufficient and they were beaten back. They tried a second time and were beaten back again. They tried a third time, inspired by the cries of the widows and orphans in their midst. Once again they were defeated. At this point, after all their trying, they turned to the Lord. They humbled themselves and relied on His mercy and strength. Before long, Ammon and his brethren arrived and the people of Limhi were freed from their physical bondage. They were, at that point, already free spiritually.

Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps the problem isn’t that God can’t help you, but that rather you are asking for the wrong thing? The scriptures have far more examples of God placing stumbling blocks than they have of him removing them. He expressly says that he gave us weaknesses so that we would be humble. The people of Limhi weren’t released from bondage immediately. When they first struggled against it, it was actually increased. It was only when they accepted that they had no other hope, that no force could save them except for God, that they began to feel freedom. His grace is sufficient for all those who humble themselves before him. Maybe the problem isn’t that God isn’t able to help. Maybe it is that in our pride we aren’t yet able to let him.

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