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“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”  (James 4:14)

What happens when you bring together a New York City stockbroker and an Ohio physician with a common personal concern?  You end up with a solution. At least that’s what happened on June 10, 1935 when Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, two recovering alcoholics, came together to institute Alcoholics Anonymous. The co-founders had a chance meeting, and with each other’s help – they both achieved lasting sobriety. With other early members, they developed AA’s Twelve-Step program of spiritual and character development. The first step for a new member is to admit that they have a problem and are “powerless over alcohol.” Making this acknowledgement with others who share their addiction allows the individuals to draw strength from one another. Members of the strictly anonymous organization control their addictions through guided group discussion and confession, reliance on a “higher power,” and a gradual return to sobriety. While the program of treatment references God, members define that higher power in their own way. In that regard, both persons of faith and non-believers as well are welcomed. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There is an estimated membership of nearly two-million people.  Working the 12-step program requires commitment, and many people benefit from the use of a sponsor to help them through the process.

I once heard a story of a man who asked a pastor to pray over him, so that he would be freed from his drinking problem. Recognizing that the motivation of the man was only to achieve a quick and easy fix, he told the individual that he really needed to go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, follow the outlined program, and become grounded in Biblical teaching. He reduced his advice to a few words – “Do the hard work.” In this day and age – it has become far too easy for many to expect an immediate fix to their problems. Certainly one might think that finding the right app, paying a fee-for service, or receiving a drive-thru prayer should do the trick and allow one to move on.  In scripture, we find Paul counseling his student Timothy to establish his life so that he could be a model for other believers. His words: “But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11-12). If we would paraphrase Paul’s directive, it might sound something like this: ‘Timothy . . . pursue, fight, and hold tightly; in other words, work the program as you have been instructed.’

As one takes a closer look at the basics of the Alcoholics Anonymous program, you will find one remaining principle of importance. Each member refrains from the use of alcohol using the slogan, “one day at a time.” In doing so, their abstinence can be achieved successfully using a daily goal rather than becoming overwhelmed with all of tomorrows which lie ahead. That philosophy is in line with the teachings of Jesus who said, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34). It’s good advice for any believer, as we should seize the opportunities and be grateful for the many blessings that God gives us each and every day. Cristy Lane reflects on this in the lyrics of her modern chorus:

One day at a time sweet Jesus; That’s all I’m asking from you.
Just give me the strength, to do every day what I have to do.
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus, and tomorrow may never be mine.
Lord help me today, show me the way . . . One day at a time.

For anyone with an addiction, the key to success is to trust in a higher power for the strength to say no to today’s temptation. For we who believe in God as that higher power, He reminds us to look to Him when the prospect of tomorrow seems too difficult to endure . . . and to simply do so one day at a time.

REFLECTION: What compulsions and obsessions do you face in your life that prevent you from making the most of each day?  How might you apply these words from Billy Graham in your daily faith walk: “Take one day at a time. Today, after all, is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.”


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