Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Luke 11:9-10 & Matthew 7:7-8
This is one of my favorite and most personally meaningful references in a sacred scripture. When I walk into a church on Sunday and note this is one of the readings, I look forward to hearing the preacher’s take during the sermon. Such was the case yesterday. The above reading was coupled with Abraham’s back and forth negotiation with God in Genesis over the number of “righteous” individuals necessary to prevent the destruction of Sodom.
I see this as all very different from the bargaining, scamming, and exploiting I tried for years to avoid taking responsibility for my own actions as a practicing alcoholic. But in recovery I have experienced the power of asking, seeking, and knocking. To me these actions are the very essence of the first two steps of AA – an admission of powerlessness and seeking outside ourselves for a solution for which we are ultimately responsible. What had kept me in my active addiction even after recognizing my powerlessness was my refusal to truly ask, seek, or knock. From the very first time I truly and desperately asked, sought, knocked – August 4, 1984 – I have remained sober.
As I have posted before, my spiritual belief is not about a man with a white beard dispensing judgement and gifts like Santa Claus. Yesterday, the preacher said that one thing that will keep us from asking is thinking we have to first earn the right. He noted that like Abraham, we see results by our persistence in asking. He noted that this shamelessness of persistent asking is like a death to the false self.
The preacher’s comments about false self particularly resonated with me. Recovery includes getting out of my “self-will run riot” per AA parlance, and being in community with and responsive to others. I know that when I do not ask, the reason is often because I want to go back into my addictive behaviors – they are familiar and I know what to expect. Self-loathing, insecurity, anger and resentment then become a primary response. Truly asking, seeking, knocking entails a confrontation between the false self and true self.
The asking, seeking, knocking in one way is like a magic button, or a shift in worldview. Those actions require getting out of a worldview framed by addiction and moving into a worldview framed in recovery. If I truly ask, I am making a decision to be willing to seek living into the solution. I have consistently found in recovery, that such a decision, made with the persistent and shameless negotiating skills of Abraham, is a road worth traveling.