Walking into my first recovery meeting, I thought, “This is worthless. I don’t need a meeting with a bunch of quasi-ex-addicts telling old war stories about their binges. I need serious help…I need to get free from alcoholism and a meeting like this isn’t helping.”
Do you know what? I was right. 90 meetings in 90 days doesn’t get you sober…it might be of short-term help because it’s not 90 days in 90 bars, but 90 meetings won’t change your life long-term. How can I say that? Because the root problem isn’t where you spend your time or even what you put in your body; the root problem is spiritual. Whether you’re reading the Big Book or the Bible, both say the same: God alone gets you sober and keeps you sober (don’t be surprised they say the same thing…AA originated as a Bible Study). As it’s been said, “Alcohol wasn’t my problem; it was my solution.” Alcohol, pills, sex, porn, gambling, etc. is just the numbing solution to inner spiritual pain.
When I began recovery, I couldn’t imagine staying sober a week, let alone a month. I didn’t want to be sober and I didn’t know how to live without alcohol. What would I do after work? At a wedding? On vacation? On weekends? I didn’t have a category for life without my drug of choice because it had become central to every area of my life.
A guy who I had known for all of 5 minutes at that first meeting asked me, “Will you commit, by God’s strength, to staying sober for the next 24 hours?” I said, “Charlie, you don’t understand…I can go one day without drinking, but I need serious long-term help.” He said, “Don’t worry about that. Will you go 24 hours, by God’s strength? Don’t do it on your own; it has to be by God’s strength.” “Fine,” I said. “Good,” he replied, “call me this time tomorrow and let me know how you did.”
“Hey Charlie. Sober 24 hours.”
“By God’s strength?”
“Want to go another 24?”
“But nothing. Want to go another 24?”
Another day passed.
“Hey Charlie. Sober 24 hours.”
Why do I tell you all that? Because that question, is what I’ve been asking myself daily for the last 10 years. Since that night on December 27th, 2005, and I haven’t had a drink.
So what made 24 hours seem so easy to say yes to and what made the thought of staying sober for a year, let alone 10, seem so impossible? The answer again is God.
And after 12 years of alcoholism, 24 hours of sobriety turned into a week, turned into a month, turned into three months, turned into a year, turned into 10 years. I never dreamed I could be sober 10 years…and the truth is, I couldn’t on my own. But, by walking with God daily, surrendering each day to Him, I could be sober one day at a time… for 10 years (3650 days).
Many of us trapped in addiction or harmful habits have tried quitting or making resolutions (Have you already relapsed from your New Year’s resolution?), but those attempts failed in frustration. But, what if, by God’s strength, you could stay sober for 24 hours? Just one day. Don’t worry about a year from now or the rest of your life – just 24 hours. Could you do that?
We believe that with God’s help, anyone with any addiction could stay sober for 24 hours. Soon 24 hour periods will string together to make a week, then a month and then years. But no single 24 hour commitment can be done apart from God. Jesus tells us to seek God and his will – only for today – and not to worry about tomorrow. God’s solution for us is walking with him one day at a time. Don’t worry about tomorrow – just seek him and his will for 24 hours.
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6.33-34)
So what do you think? By God’s strength, will you commit to staying sober for the next 24 hours?
If the answer is yes, call a trusted friend and tell him or her that by God’s strength you are committing to staying sober for the next 24 hours. Ask that person to pray for you and then report back after the 24 hours is complete. Make this a daily practice as you seek God and his will…this is accountability.
And then you might pray: “God, please keep me sober for the next 24 hours by your perfect strength. Teach me to seek you and your will today. Thank you for helping me.”