Imagine a boy with a kite on a string, the lightweight craft flying freely in the breezy blue sky. The kite is 200 feet above the child's head, waving wonderfully in the wind. Now the kite says, "If only I was not bound by this string, I could fly higher than an eagle. I would be free to go where I want to go. Only the string holds me back." Imagine the kite twisting in such a way as to break free of its restrictive string - free at last! What do you think would happen?
Separated from its string, the kite would eventually plummet clumsily to Earth and be broken beyond repair. It's the restraint of the string that helps the kite fly and that's the way it is for all of us. It's our relationship and submission to the person flying the kite that keeps us strong, healthy and purposeful. When that is broken, then we are no longer free. Like the kite with the cut string, we will fall and break.
If ever there was a man who'd cut his life string, had fallen and was broken, but was insistent that he didn't, it was Bill Wilson. For years, Bill, a successful businessman, traversed the path of life, rising to the heights of success and falling to the depths of failure repeatedly. His rollercoaster journey continued until that life-changing encounter in December 1934 when he was hospitalized for excessive drinking. It was a turning point in Bill's life. Either he would die from a diseased liver or he would do a complete life reversal and start walking in the opposite direction, away from his controlling habit.
During his stay in the hospital, Bill had a deep spiritual experience that set him free from his desire to drink alcohol. He immediately became a crusader for the freeing of alcoholics from the prison of their desire. His first convert was Dr. Bob Smith, who willingly followed Bill's method of recovery from alcohol's grip.
Four years later, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith published the book Alcoholic's Anonymous, fondly known as the Big Book. It contains the 12 steps and a spiritual-based recovery program for alcoholism.
One of the major influences in the 12-step plan was the Oxford Group movement, which was a spiritual force aimed directly at reversing the anti-religious bias of post-First World War society.
The Oxford Group's teaching rested on six basic assumptions, which formed the foundation stones for the 12 steps:
Human beings are sinners.
Human beings can be changed.
Confession is a pre-requisite to change.
The changed soul has direct access to God.
The age of miracles has returned.
Those who have been changed are to change others.
Bill Wilson later wrote: "The early AA got its ideas of self-examination, acknowledgement of character defects, restitution for harm done and working with others straight from the Oxford Group and directly from Sam Shoemaker, their former leader in America."
At Northside Church, we use a modified 12-step program to help people from all walks of life regain wholeness and health. It's not just about alcohol. Check out the ad in this paper as to the time and place of our current program, call 604-942-7711 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Barry Buzza (www.barrybuzza.com and http://barrybuzza.blogspot.com) is senior pastor at Northside church in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam.