Dick B.’s Licked and Unmanageable Life
© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved
My first lengthy article was on the unmanageable life. And this unmanageability is, of course, part of the formula for taking Step One in the 12 Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. But it is the second part. It is separated in the Step phrase from the first part which is "powerless."
I have never liked the term "powerless" since the first day I entered A.A. some 23 plus years ago--23 years of continuous sobriety. The reason is that this phrase seems to have been interjected into A.A. to support Bill W.'s "finding God" thesis. It was a corruption. Many like myself didn't have to "find God." God was not lost. And the Bible makes clear a great deal about Who He is, Where He is, and What He can do. Hence, if you are a Bible student (even an alcoholic one), your task is not to "find" God. It's to get back in fellowship with God, His Son Jesus Christ, and other believers. The spiritual misery caused by being "off the beam" (as they used to say in A.A.), was rightly characterized by Bill W.'s mentors--Professor William James, Dr. Carl Jung, and Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker when they all suggested union with God through Christ via a "vital religious experience." And the spiritual misery was caused by transgressing God's rules. This is called sin--a word easily understood in early A.A. but out of favor these days.
The answer to sin is repentance and gaining the forgiveness and restoration made possible by what Jesus Christ accomplished for believers by his sacrifice on the Cross. Without our repentance, conversion, and restoration to righteousness which God makes possible (Psalm 103), there is no "lack of power." There certainly is the power and the temptation to "do" evil, to continue to sin, and to heed the efforts of the Adversary to move us away from God and His Word and the relationship that existed with God through becoming born again of the Spirit of God. We are sealed with the promised gift, but we are not relieved of the power to become carnal Christians, to walk by the flesh instead of the Spirit, and to fail in resisting the devil. (Romans 8:1 and James 4:7).
That loss of the ability to control drinking--certainly my problem as an alcoholic--produced endless examples of the resultant unmanageable life. And early AAs as well as Oxford Group people, Rev. Sam Shoemaker, and Dr. Bob's wife, Anne Smith had a little prayer that hinted at the despair from the unmanageable life and the way out through the Grace of God. The prayer was "O God, manage me, because I can't manage myself." And that certainly was my plight. The way out came busting toward me in the many verses in Psalms which went something like this: The poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and delivered him from all his destr uctions, distresses, fears, and the pit itself.
So with the promises in the Bible and the support of successful AAs, I somehow quickly got the conviction that I could be pulled out of the hole that alcoholism and free will had made enticing for me. See James 4:10. In other words, there was a way out of the unmanageable life.
But what of the first part--powerless! Since Wilson changed the language of the Steps just prior to their publication in 1939, he also changed the emphasis from the Creator, from God, from the "Great Physician," from Jesus Christ, to some mystical "power greater than ourselves." This seemed to lead Wilson to the real conclusion that "lack of power" was the problem; and that alcoholics needed to find a "power greater than themselves" who could solve their problems.
Originally, Bill's use of words like Creator, Maker, Father, Heavenly Father, Father of Lights and God left no doubt as to the power that was available if only God and the reward were sought through belief in God (not power--God!) and diligently seeking Him (Hebrews 11:6).
Does anyone really doubt the power of a liquored up alcoholic who can wreck vehicles, drive drunk, commit crimes, fight with others, and thrust himself into a brick wall? He can and does. That is what the drunkalogs (so common today) establish. The alcoholic doesn't lack power. As Wilson wrote originally, the alcoholic has a variety of insanity--the inability to resist a hot stove even though he knows he will be burned if he sits on it. Sits on it anyway. And returns blistered and hurting for more! What the alcoholic lacks is the notion that he hasn't done a good job of exercising his power--of avoiding temptation--of renouncing booze--of repenting and confessing and changing.
And the original language so commonly used before "power" was substituted for "God" was simply: "We admitted we were licked." In other words, as Wilson put it, "Alcohol was my Master." I surrendered wisdom, reasoning, memory, and sound judgement to reckless use of my willpower--drinking to excess regardless of consequences and reaping the reward of doing that which God had expressly forbidden in Ephesians with the New King James Version language: "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit." In short, that verse and many others make clear that God forbids drunkenness, It is sin. It disobeys His warning, just as Adam and Eve did. And the bad use of power produced the end result of sinful conduct. See James, Chapter One.
If anyone is still following my account, I would close with three points: (1) My life had become unmanageable--that was plain to all who saw me, and eventually to me (in sickness, in the mental ward, and in prison--not to mention seizures).
(2) I had reached my bottom. My power was misused and abused; and liquor had become the boss--cunning, baffling, powerful. The Big Book said that without help it is too much for us. But there is One that has the Power to pull us out of the pit. And "That One is God." Bill Wilson and many others originally declared the simple fact: "I am licked!" Just like the boxer who is down for the count--and out! That boxer knows he is through. He lost!
(3) The Divine derrick, as Shoemaker called it, could pull me out. I had merely to become or be one of God's kids; then to cry to my Creator as a wounded, bruised, and licked alkie; and the LORD would hear me, save me, and heal me. And that is exactly my story.
I was licked. My life was unmanageable. I believed in God. I had become one of His kids. I cried out for help. And He got out the rope and enabled me--with my power--to climb out of the mess, to establish real fellowship with my Father, His Son, and fellow believers, and use that power to ask for God's further forgiveness, healing, guidance, and love whenever the Adversary threw anything--including that evil tempter liquor--too much temptation to drink again, and to be saved and protected from that enemy which restored sanity had enabled me readily to identify "For--as 2 Timothy 1:7 states--God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
I need never again be licked nor have an unmanageabloe life because of booze if I avail myself of God's gift of power, love, and a sound mind. It's up to me now. But God is my rock and fortress.