Do I Get Myself Sober or Does God Do It?
Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6
I’ve previously mentioned that I’m a bit obsessed with how we change. I need to know. Does God change me, or do I change myself? Personally, I can say that I’ve erred in two extremes in answering this question.
First, I’ve tried doing it my way. Though I believed in God, I refused to follow him, insisting that I could just will myself to stop. I swear, I’ll just never use again. This time I really mean it! All my good intentions simply led back to relapse.
Second, I’ve also erred in what I erroneously thought was God’s way. I’ll just pray it out. I thought faith meant that I didn’t have to do anything uncomfortable. I simply had to sit in my recliner and ask God to remove my addiction. He didn’t . . . and again, I relapsed.
In the book of Zechariah, this tension between man’s effort and God’s work is played out. In the story, God commands the Israelites to repent, change their ways, return to him, and rebuild his temple. God asks them to obey, but also relieves them of the burden of the insurmountable task. Just obey me and don’t worry about how impossible this seems. I’ll do the heavy lifting once you obey. Did God tell his people to do a thing or did God do it? Yes, to both.
God’s transformative power shows up in my obedience. I don’t save myself and I don’t transform myself, but neither does God force recovery on me. He changes me, performing his miraculous work, only when I keep my eyes on him, denying my path and following his.
In my addiction, I needed to do as God commanded. When I did, as with the Israelites, he moved mountains. When I confessed, went to treatment, attended meetings and obeyed God, he transformed my mind. Where I once couldn’t not use, I now can’t imagine taking a pill. God asked me to do, and when I obeyed, he showed up and performed his miraculous work. Did I recover, or did God do it? Yes, to both.