Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous describes the third step as follows:
We were now at Step Three. Many of us said to our Maker, as we understood Him: "God, I offer myself to Thee-to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!" We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him. Pg 63
How many times have we gotten to the point with a loved one or an employee and really wanting to quit drinking begged them for one last chance. We would say something to the effect of, "Please I will do whatever you want me to. Just please give me this one last chance!" And we meant it, and many times we would even put ourselves through some absolutely ridicules situations. We did this willingly without even batting an eye. And now we see looking back that these people could not relieve us of our alcoholism. BUT GOD CAN. This is the way we approach the third step decision:
We, in our turn, sought the same escape with all the desperation of drowning men. Pg 28 A drowning man may have a big house, fat bank account, best looking and caring wife or husband. All the best toys that money can buy. Everyone says "I wish I could be like Him or Her". At the moment their lungs are aching, they are dizzy. Their chest feels like it is going to explode, they are frantic knowing they can't hold on much longer. And the only thing that they are thinking about as they are looking up at the top of the water is getting a breath of fresh air. Nothing else is even close to being on their minds: Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon. Pg 59
To the best of our ability this is how we are going to approach God. With the desperation of a drowning man. That breath that we so desperately seek must be His protection and care. We are going to give every effort to seek what His will is and when He reveals that. We will, to the best of our ability, put that into practice in all our affairs.
Let's take a closer look at what is called the third step prayer:
God, I offer myself to thee Pg 63 I am freely giving myself to my Creator without reservation. No stipulations attached!
To build with me and to do with me as thou wilt. Pg 63 I am asking God to take me and turn me into what He would have me be, just as a father would raise his children, doing what is best for them. To take me and use me in whatever way that He sees is best for me. And in whatever way he sees fit, I gladly will serve Him..
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Pg 63 Here I are asking Him to give me the opportunity to recognize when I am beginning to seek my own gain without seeing the way that it might affect others. Whether it is emotional or material gain. And to allow me the chance to react to this without inflicting undue harm on others. To give me the ability to see when my actions might be doing more harm than good, and to allow my actions to be according to how He would have me act in any given situation. Remember: We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with all our might, but the needed power wasn't there. Our human resources, as marshalled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly. Pg 45 I need His help, I must have His help if I am to live!
Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. Pg 63 Here I am asking Him to take away the things that block me from Him. The anger or resentment, fear and dishonesty, self pity and depression. All the anxiety and frustrations that make up the bondage of self. This way when I am approaching an individual to help them, they can see what God has done for me with His Power and His Love. Allowing me through His grace to live His way of life. The way of Patience and Tolerance. Peace and Serenity; Happy, Joyous and Free. Instead of the alcoholic torture that my life is at this moment.: Love and tolerance of others is our code. Pg 84
Remember what Bill said about Ebby: The door opened and he stood there, fresh-skinned and glowing. There was something about his eyes. He was inexplicably different. What had happened? Pg 9
But my friend sat before me, and he made the point-blank declaration that God had done for him what he could not do for himself. His human will had failed. Doctors had pronounced him incurable. Society was about to lock him up. Like myself, he had admitted complete defeat. Then he had, in effect, been raised from the dead, suddenly taken from the scrap heap to a level of life better than the best he had ever known!
Had this power originated in him? Obviously it had not. There had been no more power in him than there was in me at the minute; and this was none at all.
That floored me. It began to look as though religious people were right after all. Here was something at work in a human heart which had done the impossible. My ideas about miracles were drastically revised right then. Never mind the musty past; here sat a miracle directly across the kitchen table. He shouted great tidings.
I saw that my friend was much more than inwardly reorganized. He was on a different footing. His roots grasped a new soil. Pg 11-12
May I do Thy will always. Pg 63 Here I am asking God to allow me to serve Him to the best of my ability. To reveal His will to me and allow me to see it, understand it and put it into practice in all my affairs.
The third step is just a decision, but it is a major decision! This is why we are given a direction before we make this decision: We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him. Pg 63
Let's take a look at what it is that they are having us think well about. There is no middle of the road solution. I need to throw myself into taking some action with everything that I can muster. The things that I am looking at are yes or no, not maybe or sometimes. The first thing that I am thinking about is: Are we convinced of (A),(B) and (C)?:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought
Being convinced, we were at Step Three, which is that we decided to turn our will and our life over to God as we understood Him. Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do? Pg 62
Turning our will and our life over to God is not some magical and mystical thing that it sounds like when I am at some "dump my crap on the table meeting". As, with the rest of the program of action, this is very easy and practical but can sometimes be difficult to do. Turning my will over to God is nothing more than when I see the opportunity in any way, to be helpful, to take that opportunity and do it. To show patience, to be loving or tolerant, to be kind and considerate. Even when I don't want to. I can either continue to live by doing what I want to do, or, when God opens my eyes to have a chance to be of help to someone I can do it. I don't have will power. What I do have is the power to direct my will.: "How can I best serve Thee - Thy will (not mine) be done." These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will. Pg 85
Turning my life over to Him is nothing more than doing His will, to the best of my ability, in all my daily activities, when I recognize the oppurtunity.: My friend had emphasized the absolute necessity of demonstrating these principles in all my affairs. Particularly was it imperative to work with others as he had worked with me. Pg 14
It's obvious that I am not in the position to be taking someone through the steps at this time. But I can help by showing other alcoholics what I have learned about myself. I now am properly armed with the facts of what I suffer from and I know a recovered alcoholic who can help. In a sense I am a beggar leading other beggars to bread. Note that this says all my affairs! Simple things that used to pass me by such as picking up trash next to a garbage can, or making sure my trash makes it in the can. This saves someone else from doing it. If I decide that I don't want an item while shopping put it back where I got it from, or picking something off the floor and putting it on the shelf where it belongs.This saves someone else from doing it. Starting to help out around the house or at work where I usually would not lend a hand. To the best of my ability let yes mean yes and no mean no. If I 'm not sure about something don't make a commitment, and if I do I need to keep it. Even just a kind word where I usually would just walk quietly on by. It is amazing what the simplest of kind acts can do to brighten someone else's day. Treat others as I would like them to treat me. I know there are times that I will fall short but I am not going to use this as an excuse to fall short. As I strive for spiritual perfection, I am going to have spiritual growth.
Many of us exclaimed, "What an order! I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection. Pg 60
We have to start some where. At step three we make a conscientious effort to have constant thought of others. As time goes by we will begin to anticipate their needs before they know they need them. Am I willing to do this?
Next we ask ourselves if we are ready to quit playing God.: This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn't work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom. Pg 62
How do we play God? The basic text gives a good example on Pgs 60-62. Quite simply selfish and self-centered. Constant thought of me and how I might help meet my needs without any thought of anyone else involved in any given situation. If everyone else would just change to suit my needs. This has always been the problem. The simple solution is I am going to quit playing God. I am going to look at how I might change to meet everyone elses needs and God will provide me with what I need. From this turning point on, He is the Father and I am His child.
If I can say that I am ready to quit playing God, then I am ready to make a choice: When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self-imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn't. What was our choice to be? Pg 53
If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps.Pg 58
Am I willing to take the actions necessary to find out what it is that God would have me do? Am I willing to go to any length? To the best of my ability is serving God going to be everything to me. Am I going to strive to grow in the knowledge of His will for me and carry it out to the best of my ability? I STAND AT THE TURNING POINT! There is the way that I have been going, and then there is the way of coming to know and serve God to the best of my ability. It is at this point that we also must commit to practicing the so called maintenance steps, ten through twelve. Yes the program of action must be done in order, steps four through nine. But as I go through step four I am going to begin to come to some conclusions about myself and it will become imperative that I start watching for these symptoms of selfish and self-centered as they crop up: selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. Step ten has some explicit instructions on what to do when I see them.
We need to start practicing step eleven because this step is where I begin to develop my relationship with God. This step involves the studying of God's will or His word. Yes, The bible. As we begin to start with some basic scriptures we start to see the basic text come alive. The bible was the book the pioneers used to not only recover but this is also where the basic text comes from. Remember they did not have any steps. They had principles of the Oxford Group and they were all biblical and centered on: "Surrender as much of yourself as you can to as much of God as you understand Him to be. God will come through to you, make Himself known, and enable you to understand more. You will come to believe. You will find God." The program of Alcoholics Anonymous,(or steps four through nine), involves prayer. Step three is a decision made with a prayer. In step four we begin to rely on guidance by praying before we sit down to work on our inventory as well as the various prayers that are involved in the action steps. I learn the proper way to pray in the word of God. I see where the pioneers got the underlying philosophy for the basic text and it's meaning. God begins to make Himself known to me through His word. This is where He enables me to understand more. This is where I find His will.This is where I find God!
Am I willing to go to any length?
Step twelve is where I am seeking to be of help to others. My job now is to have constant thought of others to the best of my ability.The twelfth step in the basic text lays out the foundation for having constant thought of others.
The book is very clear on what I do next: We found it very desirable to take this spiritual step with an understanding person, such as our wife, best friend or spiritual adviser. But it is better to meet God alone than with one who might misunderstand. The wording was, of course, quite optional so long as we expressed the idea, voicing it without reservation. This was only a beginning, though if honestly and humbly made, an effect, sometimes a very great one, was felt at once.
Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning, which many of us had never attempted. Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Pg 63-64
If I can answer yes to all the questions that I have thought well about, and have made my decision. Then I am ready to start the action required to recover from alcoholism.
Next Let's take a look at step four.