The One-percent Solution
Before coming to Alcoholics Anonymous, I had no belief in a God, let alone trust in one, and without that, the Third Step posed a big problem. My sponsor asked if I thought there was any possibility that those millions of people for thousands of years might have been praying to a real God. I told him I thought there was a one-in-one-hundred chance.
He said, "If there is a loving God, do you believe if you honestly prayed to him to reveal himself, that he would not do it?"
I said, "No, I can't imagine praying to a loving God and him not revealing himself."
He then advised, "For two weeks, take your 99 percent disbelief and put it on a shelf, and take your 1 percent belief and pray with it 100 percent. Ask God to reveal himself."
Five months before, I had seen the truth that I was a drunk who had difficulty keeping a job, abused his wife, alienated loved ones, and worst of all, could not stop drinking. After two weeks of prayer to a God I didn't believe in, I didn't hear words from God, but if I did, they would have said, "Who do you think that was who allowed you to see the truth about yourself five months ago? And who do you think guided you to Alcoholics Anonymous? And why do you think you are on your knees now, praying to a God you don't even believe in?" I wouldn't expect this story to convince a nonbeliever there is a God, but I will say that I can't imagine myself ever coming to believe in God without honestly seeking him through prayer.
After working this program a while, I found there is a difference between believing in God and trusting him. Trusting god in some instances means telling the truth. Taking responsibility for my wrong-doings when I would just as soon cover them and forget.
I liken it to the time when I used to fly a small plane. I was not instrument-rated, but I had a little experience flying in bad weather. One evening I was flying over Big Sur on the California coast with a friend. We were about five miles off the shoreline over the water and about 3,000 feet altitude. There was no moon out that evening and in this rural part of the coast, no lights. The night was pitch black. It was as if someone had covered the windshield with a blanket. We could see nothing. Suddenly the engine began to sound louder. I noticed we were dropping altitude and flying a little to the left. However, it felt as if we were flying straight and level to me. I remembered learning in flight school about disorientation when flying by instruments without sight. About this time, my friend noticed my concern and began to get a little nervous. I knew I had to trust the instruments and not my feelings. I pulled back on the yolk and turned a little to the right to straighten out the plane. Now the instruments indicated we were flying straight and level, but I felt as if we were flying up and to the right. If you fly upward too steeply, you can stall a plane and crash. My feelings now told me we might stall and crash, but the instruments said we were good. I had to fly with that fear for a good minute or two before the feeling that we were flying incorrectly went away.
Sometimes for me, trusting God in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is similar to trusting my flight instruments. It doesn't feel as if I will benefit. Denying my feelings and doing what I believe God would have me do takes trust. I guess that's why they call it faith.