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 Life in the Guided Lane

91 year old Jim H. is the only man alive who knew the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.  A Dayton, Ohio, crowd, estimated at 600, recently heard him recall working with AA co-founder Bill Wilson and trace AA's evolution from the Oxford Group.  H. challenged AA members to move beyond their daily quest for sobriety to commit themselves fully to God and to listen daily to their inner voice for direction. 

"NEW MEN - NEW NATIONS - A NEW WORLD" were the words that caught the attention of Jim H. many years ago.  This was the theme phrase of Frank Buchman and the Oxford Group in the mid-thirties.  What interested Him was a real reason to change.  He always wanted to be a part of something new.  Jim had been taught that just being "good" was sufficient, but, somehow, he seemed to end up being "good for nothing."  Jim was a seeker and had committed his life to God back in 1918 at a YMCA evangelistic meeting, but it did not "take" because he lived his life on the same basis as the other "Christians" around him and he naturally though this was "par for the course."  It did not offer much of a challenge.  Strangely enough, 16 years later, in that same room in the same YMCA, he met the Oxford Group, the predecessor of Moral Re-Armament.  This time is was different.  This time he was confronted with a program for his life.  The Oxford Group brouht him face to face witht the four standards of honesty, purity, unselfishness and love with which to judge his life.  He also learned about two-way prayer - if you listened to the deepest thing in your heart, God would tell you how to run your life.  Then came the matter of putting right what was wrong, defined as restitution.

 Jim had difficulty believing that God really could talk to you through your mind.  It was not until he was willing to try and experiment that he became convinced.  In a time of quiet listening Jim was reminded about damage he had done to a company car years before.  He had bee driving drunk, had run into another vehicle, and had failed to stop.  He had thought he had covered his tracks well by repairing the company car and taking the further precaution of getting the garage attendant to say that he had not had the car out.  However, someone had taken his number at the scene of accident and there was an investigation.  All the same, Jim's story held up.  Ten years had  passed and not once during that time had he thought about the incident.  The fact that God seemed to have taken the time to remind Jim of this matter during his first quiet time, made him a real believer in the Oxford Group's axiom, "When man listens, God speaks."

 Now this part of the program was not easy for Jim as his mind became flooded with the many misdeeds of his past.  There was another issue he had forgotten about.  God reminded him of the time back in 1918 when he was 12 years old and worked for a retail electrical store.  The pay was a nickel and hour.  He worked 10 hours a day and received 50 cents for a day's effort.  Working six days a week, he earned all of three dollars.  he was fresh off the farm, where the family had only  kerosene lights and horse and buggy travel, so Jim was fascinated by the possibilities of increasing the use of electricity around his new home.  With an income of $3 a week, the prospects looked dim indeed, so he resorted to what he thought was "the next best thing" - he stole the materials.  Now 16 years later God was telling him to make restitution for the theft.

 With the years had come changes.  Both the former store owner and Jim were now Elders on the same Methodist church board.  But God had spoken, and Jim set out on his new venture of restitution.  The store owner just could not believe what Jim was telling him.  He had never in his life been confronted with this deep kind of honesty.  He told Jim that he could not accept the money, that he would have to give it to the church, and so on.  Jim told him that was his problem.  Touched by Jim's honesty the store owner asked to have coffee with him.  He told Jim that his extreme sense of honesty had touched him very deeply, and he felt he should share something with him.  Jim learned that his friend's marriage was on the rocks - that he and his wife were on the verge of divorce - that he had not been faithful to her - the papers were drawn up and he did not see any way out.  He told Jim that the concept of absolute honesty had given him a new idea and he was going home to be absolutely honest with his wife about his life, to make restitution and see if they could make a completely new start together.

 Jim soon learned that his friend had done what he had said and that his act of guided restitution had saved a marriage.  All of this happened in Jim's life within two weeks of his own change.  What a revelation!!  And all because of his obedience to God and His guidance.  Jim learned early that the secret of guidance is obedience.  This was a lesson worth learning when he considered the alternative.  It was also the initiative that set him on the road of life-changing, bringing new life to the many individuals he has touched over the years.

 At the age of 91 Jim is of the firm conviction that if you want a new world you have to build it with changed people.  As he puts it, "You cannot make a good omelet with bad eggs."  

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