12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous have helped countless people around the world to win the battle over addiction. The 12 Step program, which is really a lived spirituality, helps people to see their Goliath, to name their Goliath, and, with God’s help, to overcome their Goliath. I call it a Goliath because most people in the grip of addiction feel that the giant is just too big, that they can’t defeat it. And the truth is that they can’t defeat it, not with their own will power. But more on that point in a moment.
You need not have a serious addiction to benefit from the 12-Step program. We all have Goliaths in our lives: things that keep us down, that we feel are too big to be defeated. So what does this biblical story (1 Samuel 17) teach us about defeating the Goliath in our lives?
The young and fearless David is determined to fight the experienced Philistine warrior, Goliath. Saul admonishes David that he’s too young to fight Goliath; but David is confident that the Lord will give him the strength for victory. David says to Goliath: “You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts…For the battle is the Lord’s, and he shall deliver you into our hands.”
We know the end of the story. David strikes Goliath in the head with a stone from his sling. Goliath drops, and then David cuts off his head.
The first step in the 12-Step program is: “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable.” The second step: “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” Isn’t that what David did? He never claimed he was going to take out Goliath by his own power. David made it clear that the Lord was going to be the one to win the victory. David wasn’t relying on willpower; he was relying on the Lord.
Sometimes we try to fight our Goliath with will power. That doesn’t work. It’s humbling, but we must admit we are powerless over it, whatever “it” is. We must believe what David believed: “The battle is the Lord’s.” This is why the third step in the 12-Step program is so important: “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
So, what is your Goliath? Is it a particular sin or habit? Is it an addiction? Is it a memory? Is it a thought pattern? Is it a situation or problem in your life?
It’s important to name your Goliath. Honesty is really important. Find someone you can confide in and name it. You see, if we live in fear of our Goliath we empower it; but if we name it, if we look it in the face, we begin to experience freedom.
Make a decision to let go and let the Lord fight your battles. I know, it seems counterintuitive: when we face a giant we feel we need to fight or flee; but in our lives with the Lord we do neither. We surrender to God and let him fight for us. He takes care of us (step 3). And if we let him, he will slay our Goliath.
It’s okay to give up. No. I don’t mean to give in to despair or to give in to your addiction or bad habit. I’m simply saying it’s okay to give up the battle and to tell the Lord that you can’t fight anymore, that you’re tired, that He has to do it for you. To overcome sin, addictions, bad habits, or any other situation in our lives, we must throw willpower out the window. The only decision we need to make with our will is to surrender to the Lord and let Him take over.
Don’t be afraid of your Goliath. Look at it. Name it. Admit that you can’t defeat it. And then surrender your life and will to the Lord. Let him take care of it for you. He wants to take it from you. Afterall, it’s His job.