New Light on the Twelve Steps
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of
these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs…
We come at last to Step 12, the culmination and, indeed, the purpose of all the other steps. It is here that we are firmly and finally planted in our true identity–created sons containing and expressing the Savior’s sacrificial life for a dying world. For the Steps are really simply a description of how such a life works. at does Deity living in humanity look like? Norman answers in these words: "The life in the Spirit is bound to have one hall-mark–that the nature of God is reproduced in the personality handed over to Him; for such a handing-over implies total immersion in and possession by the Spirit of God, to be made like Himself, and He is God. God’s nature has one essential characteristic. He is total self-giving" (The Law of Faith, p. 188).
The first eleven steps have pre-pared us for this realization. We have, through God’s loving pressure on us, finally seen the truth and admitted we are powerless–vessels unable to operate ourselves. We believe that God is the Power. And our only hope of escape from the insanity of sin/Satan is our decision: if unsaved, to invite Jesus Christ into our hearts as God or, if saved, to claim by faith our union with Him as fact. Then we take action to discover what has been blocking the free flow of Christ’s Spirit out of us by making an unsparing survey of our lives. The Bible calls this "repentance" and "confession."
We begin to cultivate a true willingness to faith into who we are as the only sure guard against repeating the sin behavior patterns we have just uncovered. We see the value of quickly confessing when we do believe Satan’s lie that we have power, as though we can run our own lives apart from our Source, and we value the unselfish concern and input of others who can see us when we are blind to ourselves. Then we move out toward our fellows, making reparation as God leads–really, living as who we are is the best amend.
We admit, believe, decide, and begin action; and the result is a "spiritual awakening." We are aware now that reality is not what we thought–it is invisible, it is Spirit, and we breathe a different air. Now we are within earshot of God’s purpose for us, His Great Commission–Go and tell. You are my hands and feet; you are My life now to a world as blind as you have been. And gratitude for every second of our lives floods us because we are now able to help others as we have been helped. The Big Book puts it this way: "Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have–the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them" (pg. 124).
Having been excavated from Satan’s lies and set free from the particular brand of self-for-self life he operated through us, we are perfectly positioned to recognize the same lies in others. We can identify with them, having been perpetrators ourselves. Now we are not hollow fog-horns dispensing advice from a summit of pride and self-righteousness. Rather we are veterans of a spiritual battle, and the victory is self-evident. Yet we pass it on in humility, knowing Who won the war. We pass on our experience, a life of sin and addiction before and after; our strength: "when I am weak, then I am strong"; our hope, "I live, yet not I but Christ…."
The twelfth step is where we move away from the "little children" and "young men" stages and see ourselves as "fathers," co-heirs with Christ. Norman says, "We no longer regard our lives from the aspect of our own convenience, or pleasant or unpleasant situations or relationships, not even our physical well-being" (Yes, I Am, pg. 156). We have moved from disciple-ship to apostleship because the Spirit has driven us "out of self-pleasing into self-giving, out of indulgence, into sacrifice, out of security into service, out of care of myself into concern for others" (The Law of Faith, pg. 188). The Big Book agrees that "our very lives…depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs" (pg. 20). We now have only one desire: that His life be reproduced in others. We "travail in birth…until Christ be formed in them" (Galatians 4:19).
Our life is not our own. We were bought with a price. Now we take up our cross daily, we die daily, we lose our own life for the sake of life in others. This is not some mysterious high mystical business but simply dying to our negative human feelings and reactions and replacing them with the fact of His sufficiency in us as us. "Not my will, but thine." That simple. This is what both the Steps and the Bible have taught us: self-for-others means what it says and is the categorical opposite of me for me–self-for-self. This is what "bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" (2 Cor. 4:10).
There is a cost to such a life: "When the Holy Ghost really lives His life in a chosen vessel, there is no limit to the extremes to which He will take him, in His passion to warn and save the lost" (Rees Howells, Intercessor, pg. 89). We are now intercessors. But the gain of such a life is immeasurable. The law of the harvest is that "unless a corn of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24).
Fruit is what God is after–the fruit of the lost, the billions of victims of Satan’s lies. What we believe is not some esoteric truth to only be discussed and written about in books; it is the heartbeat of the Gospel, the battle-cry of Paul, the very meaning of abundant life. We are privileged beyond measure to be His agents of redemption and reconciliation. We dare do nothing less than embrace our calling.