In early English firearms, not every maker made the entire working product. One maker specialized in the flint lock, the firing mechanism. Another crafted the stock that would help the owner to hold the firearm securely. The barrel, the part that pointed the projectile in the direction fired, was made yet by another. Soon however, the craftsmen began to see the value to produce and sell the whole firearm, “lock, stock and barrel.” The use of the term first was advertisement that one could buy the whole firearm from one maker. The idiom from this became a way one would refer to something in-toto. So when a big change comes along, it’s wholesale, everything, “lock, stock and barrel.’
I find in that idiom a truth that recovery offers us. It calls for a total change, from the rule and reign of addiction, to the total liberation of recovery. It got me thinking of a “replacement principle,” one replaces the other. Addictive thinking gives way to recovery thinking with all that follows.
I find this replacement concept within the bundle of the first three steps of the 12 Step program. Step One tells us, “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.” (From Celebrate Recovery it reads, “Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable.”) There is a wholesale admission that takes place: I replace my attempting with accepting. Experience has brought me to the reality that all my efforts within my power have not released me from my addiction. But to find that solution, I have to see my failure (powerlessness) that is shown in my chaos (unmanageability.) It hurts, it’s ugly–I don’t want to see it. But it’s the door to the solution. The beatitude that goes with it in CR is, “Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.” Matthew 5:3. Others may have seen my plight, but it only carries weight when I see it for myself. Jesus used a very transparent analogy, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick…” Why do I go to the doctor? Because I know I’m sick. When I see my need, I seek the remedy. Acceptance signals the readiness for change.
Step Two tells us, “We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” (In Celebrate Recovery we see, “Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover.” ) Those words, “came to believe” are a great experiential truth. The journey I’ve been on, the movement in my life–it was all there to lead me to see the power of God. I replace myself as my power source with God himself. When acceptance moves my failure out of the way, I am free to believe God, take him at his word, let him do what I could not. The CR beatitude that corresponds here is, “Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4. I sorrow over my loss, over my total shortfall, but my mourning gives way to God’s comfort, “Trust me to do this in you…” Addiction is bigger than me, but not bigger than the God that “hangs the earth on nothing.” (Job 26.7)
The truth from Step Three is, “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.” (From Celebrate Recovery we read, “Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.”) When I have aligned myself with the acceptance of Step One and the believing of Step Two, Step Three is a most natural progression. I’ve failed, God does not. So now I trust him. I replace my willpower with surrender. I intentionally use the term willpower because I often encounter it, either through persons contemplating how they can quit, or from families that believe their son or daughter, spouse or parent can quit if they just exercised “willpower.” The beatitude related through CR says, “Happy are the meek.” Matthew 5:5 That may sound odd at first, but the meaning of meekness is not “weakness.” The best understanding of it in the New Testament is “controlled strength.” I grew up on a dairy farm. Dairy cows are 1500 pound beasts that could do a lot of damage. But usually they don’t, because their strength is controlled. We herded them, fed them, milked them, cared for them–they pretty much gave up the independent exercise of their power to do what we wanted them to do. When that was true they became very productive. Life is profoundly different when we consciously choose to turn our lives and our will over to Christ’s care and control.
Lock, stock and barrel–come experience the wholesale change of recovery in the hands of Jesus!