I have no idea what it would feel like to have had an innocent childhood, but that’s what Step 7 sounds like to me. It sounds like asking God to make me innocent. When God showed up in the drug house where I was trying to kill myself, that’s what He showed me. He gave me a glimpse of what I’d be like the day after resurrection–an innocent child. I told Him, “I’ve never been innocent.” And He told me, “I’ve never seen you any other way.” It was the first time in my life I’d ever felt loved. I just sobbed. I could hardly believe it. Do you know what I mean?
For me, the verse that goes with Step 7 still seems almost too good to be true: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Maybe you’re like me and you find it hard to believe that God can actually make you clean. Or maybe it’s been totally different for you. Maybe you relate to my friend, Fran.
Fran McKain is our Creative Director at True Step Ministries. At first, you might think there’s no way she could understand anything about recovery. I mean, she’s never used drugs or alcohol, never been abused, never had any of the darker addictions. She’s a great Bible student and she does tons of ministry. If anybody was ever an innocent child, she was probably it.
About a year ago, she told me that if she was really honest, she’d have to admit she had a hard time relating to verses in the Bible like this: “You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17). She couldn’t see herself as really wretched. When she looked at her life, it seemed like the cross was a bit overkill in her case. “I mean, really? God poured out all of heaven and gave His Son to die because I’m a bit impatient once in awhile, and sometimes a little defensive and critical?”
Over the last months, God has been gently revealing to her the mess under the innocent appearance And it’s the same junk we all have: wounded by other people, thirsty to be loved and valued, choosing foolish, selfish ways to get those needs met. Whether you choose drugs, sex, or religion (like Fran did), the result is the same: you’re still thirsty and you’re still a mess. Fran says God showed her it’s like she has a bad case of heartworms. You can’t get rid of heartworms. They’ll kill you. You need a new heart. The incredible thing is that God says, “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” (Ezekiel 36:26).
It’s true! He’s not only willing to forgive us, He longs to do it, and He delights to heal us and purify our hearts.