Faith Insight: Freedom Is Possible

April 19, 2013

Liz Engle Gerdes

FAIRBANKS — A long, long time ago, in a place far, far away (when you’re in Alaska, every place is far, far away), a good Christian gentleman came up with a plan to help alcoholics get control of their addiction and shed the despair and destruction that the addiction carried with it.

Alcoholics Anonymous has in the past many decades saved countless lives and helped countless alcoholics live saner, more fruitful lives. Since then, similar anonymous 12-step programs have sprung up for other addictions and for family members of those who are addicted, and these programs have been a blessing to many.

What is it about a 12-step program that makes it so useful?

I never qualified for a 12-step program, or so I thought, until Celebrate Recovery came along. It was in Celebrate Recovery, in working those 12 steps that I discovered I too had issues and needed healing.

For me, my real issue was a distance from God I couldn’t bridge. I didn’t cover my problem with chemicals; I used other coping skills, such as staying busy, eating chocolate and working really hard at being right all the time, among other things. Then through Celebrate Recovery, I discovered the pathway to God I so desperately wanted.

I won’t say that on the surface my life looks much different. I have the same job, same husband, same kids, different iterations of the same pets and hobbies, and I still go to church on Sundays. However, my heart and soul are satisfied, confident and at peace in ways I never knew before.

It turns out there’s biblical support for those 12 steps. Twelve stepping is a discipleship pathway that leads closer to God, and in walking down that path, we find that getting closer to the source of our life and hope, we find healing as well.

This is a road that is not meant to be traveled alone. God wants us to be in community with each other, to share our joys and sorrows with each other, to encourage each other to do the difficult work of being faithful to a God that sometimes can seem a little distant. That’s why support groups like “Fill in the Blank” Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery can work.

If you really want to change your life, if you really believe God can help you and if you are willing to be brutally honest about yourself and your flaws (and Lord knows we all have them), then you can be freed from those hurts, habits and hang-ups that trouble you.

There is a new movie in town, opening today at Regal Cinemas that illustrates this process. The movie is “Home Run,” a story about a pro baseball player whose alcoholism threatens his career. This isn’t a story about a super God zapping him with his magic wand and bringing instant healing. This is a story about the road to healing, with its bumps and its failures, with skepticism, misunderstanding, reluctance and eventual triumph.

It’s a love story, a comedy and a drama, with a great soundtrack and a great cast. It is a faith-based movie about recovery, about the power of Christ to set you free from the bondage of your past. It’s a story of hope and healing that will leave you smiling.

It also gives a pretty accurate representation of what the Celebrate Recovery ministry is like, if you want a sneak preview before you try it for yourself.

At, you can watch a movie trailer and see a 4-minute mini-documentary about its production.

If you have a friend who needs recovery, take them to the movies. You never know what might happen.

A word of caution to all you Celebrate Recovery fans out there. When you go to this movie, if you see people you know in cameo roles, do not burst into cheers or applause. When you hear “Celebrate Recovery” at the theater, don’t whoop and holler. Be considerate of those who have paid money to see a good movie and let them enjoy it without distraction. We’ve got a lifetime ahead of us to celebrate.

Insight is sponsored by the Tanana Valley Christian Conference.

Liz Engle Gerdes is the Celebrate Recovery Alaska state representative.

© Fairbanks Daily News Miner

Return to Newspapers, Magazines, etc. Page

Return to the A. A. History Page

Return to the West Baltimore Group Home Page