Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
There is a subtle difference between Step 6 and Step 7 – are we getting in the way or getting out of the way?
In the previous step we are ready to have God take over, but being ready and giving Him permission are two entirely different things. It’s sort of like going to the barber.
You get in the chair, which implies that you are ready to have the barber do something for you, but there is a short exchange that takes place when they ask what you want and you tell them. In effect, you’re giving them permission to cut your hair, and that’s something they didn’t have when you sat down. My standard reply is something like “off the ears and clean up the back.” I don’t have a lot of hair so it only takes a few minutes.
What would it be like if your hair was of utmost importance to you both personally and professionally? This isn’t exactly a stretch, because I know how some folks feel about their hair. Would you go to anybody who knew how to cut hair, or would you be particular about whom you allowed to touch your locks? Even if you got the most experienced, artistic and most celebrated hair stylist, you still would have your doubts.
Your future is on the line. Your career is on the line. The last person who cut your hair might have used a lawn mower, and now you are with a gifted individual. You know this intellectually, but do you know this emotionally? Maybe not, all of the “what if” questions start popping into your mind, like “what if I don’t like the style?” “What if I let them take too much off?” Make up your own questions. If you are fussing, and there’s nothing wrong with that, you’re going to have your moments of doubt.
Before the stylist, no matter whom they are and no matter if they are the best stylist in the business, still has to have your permission and a measure of trust in order to serve you. So too God looks for your trust and your permission that is the purpose of step 7.
A Pure Heart
People often talk about preachers being “pushy,” telling you to do this and do that, asking you for money, then telling you more about what’s wrong with you. God, whom you have shared with in Step 5 is the same God you’re talking to now. There is no need to beat you about the head and shoulders over any of your shortcomings, there is no need to level any blame or criticism because the inventory we made and the confession we offered have already put everything out on the table. There are no hidden cards.
Still, before we go through step 7 we may not be ready to allow God to remove the flaws that we have already shared with Him. This is most likely fear that takes over and gets in the way of God.
In Psalm 51:1-12, David writes, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
A Willing Spirit
Because we have made a confession to ourselves, to another person and to God, there is no more to discuss. If we have been open and honest with God, the relationship is good. David asks for several interesting blessings in this verse. First he asks for God to renew his steadfast spirit. Anyone fighting addiction knows that perseverance is a key element in recovery. “Do not cast me from your presence” is understandable if we have confessed our shortcomings with God and laid everything bare. Secondly, he asks God to restore the joy or his salvation and asks God to “grant him a willing spirit, to sustain him.” In other words, let me feel what I felt when I first discovered your mercy, your compassion and your love. The willing spirit I need is one that allows me to always be in God’s light, to not stay off the path.
True Humility is Key
The last piece of this step is saved for last. The word we examine is “humbly.” Americans don’t really like the idea of humility. Athletes, both amateur and professional, strut on the playing field and celebrate their accomplishments. They are our heroes. Movie stars and rock stars, and reality show performers are our idols. We aspire to be like them. We worship their celebrity. We love to destroy them when they fail. Once the ego is removed, the venire is stripped away and our live is an open book, then and only then can we have any concept of humble. When you realize that human beings are pretty helpless in the eyes of God, some of the things that we worship aren’t as attractive as they were before.
Having your heart in the right place, with no hidden agenda, is key point of understanding to this step. If you go before God completely self-assured, arrogant and prideful, you need to return to previous steps and begin again.
If you been able to truly allow God to begin working a change in you then you’re ready for Step Eight: