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Alcoholics Anonymous may help us understand a difficult Bible passage.
Sandy Beach recounts the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous in a very interesting book, “Steps and Stories.” In the 1920s there was a millionaire who a member of a very wealthy family. His name was Rowland Hazard and he was slated to take over the family business, but for one big problem. He was an alcoholic.
Because of the family’s fortune, Hazard was able to receive the best medical care the world had to offer. He traveled to Switzerland to see a famous psychiatrist named Carl Jung. He stayed with Jung for a year and saw him every week. The goal of the sessions was for him to have a profound personality change, so that he would look at the world differently and wouldn’t have to drink.
At the end of a year, Jung sent him home with the admonition to not drink. He told him that if you do drink, you will lose all of the opportunities that are before you. It didn’t take long for Hazard to pick up a drink. He got as far as Paris before he took a drink and promptly got drunk.
He returned to the care of Dr. Jung and again asked for his help. Jung replied, “I’m sorry, but I there is nothing I can do for you.”
Hazard asked the doctor if there was nothing else that he could do for him. Possibly, there was another kind of therapy that might work.
Jung said, “No, I can’t. I tried. I did everything that I know how to do, and it didn’t work.”
Hazard was in a state of desperation from Jung’s words.
Dr. Jung gave Hazard ray of hope. He said, “Now I have heard of a few cases where people found a spiritual way to have a profound change. If I were you, I would go try to find that.”
Hazard returned to America and did just that. He got connected with an Oxford Movement small group. This movement was started by a Lutheran minister, who bypassed the religious forms of the church in favor of small group meetings to talk about spirituality. Through the Oxford Movement, Hazard had his eyes opened to the reality of Jesus, who gave him the personality change that was needed to keep him sober.
The Lutheran minister who began the Oxford Movement had daughter, who became the wife of Bill Wilson, the founder of AA. Bill Wilson’s story is a great one for another day.
Healing the blind and hard of heart
John 12.36-40 – After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them. 37 Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
“Lord, who has believed our message,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39 And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said,
40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.”
How can we understand this difficult passage? There are many interpretations. This is the way I see it.
My belief is that God blinds our eyes and hardens our hearts, so we will reach bottom and turn our lives to him. I don’t think God desires anyone to suffer the pain of a rock-bottom experience, but for many that is the only way to get beyond self-sufficiency, self-pleasing and self-pride.
It is at our rock bottom point that Jesus will meet us and bring the healing and salvation we need. This is the reason why I began today’s article with Rowland Hazard’s story.
Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a person, if they shall gain the whole world, and lose their own soul? Or what shall a person give in exchange for their soul?” (Mark 8.36-37).
What has the western world gained in recent years?
Successful sports team
Excellent technology and sciences
Low rates of unemployment
What has the western world lost in recent years?
How can “rock-bottom” people help?
People who have first-hand experience of reaching rock bottom are in a perfect position to pray for a rock-bottom humanity. Feel, once again, your despair and helplessness. Remember the time when you admitted that you needed a power greater than yourself, or you would be totally lost to your addiction.
Please turn that feeling into a prayer for a broken world that has lost its soul. Use your feeling to ask God to rescue our world, during this corona virus pandemic, and bring us to a place of spiritual recovery.
Similar to Rowland Hazard, our world needs a personality change that will free us from all of the idols (substitutes for God) we serve. Our soul needs the rescue that only Jesus can give us. Please use your experience of recovery to intercede for a world that is blind and hardened to the things of God.
Obviously, people who are not in some kind of recovery can pray, too. Let’s all join in this prayer ministry.
We can pray Paul’s prayer in Ephesians for the world, for our family and friends and for ourselves.
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. (Ephesians 1.17-19)