(The Celebrate Recovery group that I attend held a special ceremony for my step study group at the completion of our nine-month study of the twelve steps. The following is the mini-testimony I shared.)
Two years ago, I wanted to do a step study for 3 reasons:
- start a Celebrate Recovery at my church
- enhance my non-profit ministry
- gain experience in counseling
I would use my previous struggles of pornography and over-eating for my “issues.”
The ministry leader said, “Perfect timing because we have some step studies starting soon.” Well “starting soon” evidently meant seven months. Then a conflict with one of my graduate degree classes pushed it out a full 14 months!
However, now I was starting for three new reasons:
- My porn issue had returned
- My over-eating had returned
- I was depressed
I see now that those delays were about God preparing my heart.
As we began our work on step four which is our personal inventories, my church sent my wife and I to California to attend the Celebrate Recovery Summit to prepare to start a Celebrate Recovery at our church.
At the final worship service, it all hit home. In tears I wrote the following words on a 3X5 card:
“I hurt from a father who made fun of me and expected perfection. He belittled me and my calling to be a minister. I have lived my life trying to prove him wrong. I have cared more about what others think of me instead of what God thinks of me. I have tried to stay in control of all aspects of my life to minimize my risk of being belittled. I have craved earthly titles to justify my worthiness instead of wearing the name of Jesus Christ.”
I took a nail and hammered this card to a cross.
My wife said, “You just completed step five. I am so proud of you.” I was shocked. This wasn’t about pornography, over eating, or depression. Apparently God was more interested in the deeper issues of my heart.
God used my step study brothers to drive me even deeper. Their sharing reflected an honesty and vulnerability I had never experienced with other men. I love you guys.
Let me close with my favorite scripture from the Step Study:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” – Isaiah 43:18-19