In his book, “The Age Of Miracles Is Back: How Jesus Inspired The 12 Steps,” Glenn Langohr tells us that the Twelve Steps, which we associate with Alcoholics Anonymous, did not start out as a cure for alcoholism. Instead, the Twelve Steps originated with the Oxford Group, a Christian organization that was founded by missionary, Frank Buchman. Dr. Buchman stressed that “life changing” was the natural result of asking God for direction. He advocated the practice of a daily “quiet time,” so as to seek God’s guidance. Additionally, he established small lunch groups, with an emphasis on spiritual and moral Christianity. They had four “absolutes” that they considered the summary of the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus Christ:
These were coupled with four spiritual practices:
- The sharing of sins and struggles with another person
- Surrender to God of the past, present and future
- Making restitution to those whom you have wronged
- Seeking guidance which, when received, is followed up with action
In 1939, William “Bill W.” Wilson published the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous,” the core of which was the now well-known Twelve Steps of recovery.
Langohr reminds us of the story of Paul. He says, “The story of Paul and the Twelve Disciples is about a person’s soul and life being converted and transformed from one way of living to another way of living. God used Paul and transformed him 180-degrees.”
As we know from Scripture, Acts 6:8, “…Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.” Stephen testified about God and Jesus before the Sanhedrin. However, “At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul,” Acts 7:57-58. “And Saul approved of their killing him…,” Acts 8:1.
Saul continued “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus…,” Acts 9:1-2. “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do,” Acts 9:3-6. Saul’s 180-degree conversion resulted in him turning his life and his will over to God. Langohr states, “Paul’s conversion is the most remarkable one in history. He wrote 13 of the 27 books in the New Testament. He went from prosecuting and murdering Christians to testifying that Jesus rose from the dead.”
We have all experienced “Damascus moments” in our own lives. These are moments when we find ourselves “on the ground,” realizing that our lives are unmanageable, that there is a power much greater than ourselves who can restore us, and that all we need do is make the decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.
Is this your Damascus moment?