Beginning this month, He Did Deliver Me from Bondage will be serialized on Meridian. I can think of no better time to read this book. The Church’s study course for 2004 is the Book of Mormon; I consider He Did Deliver Me from Bondage the most spiritually in-depth study of the Book of Mormon I’ve ever read. This book stands second only to the scriptures in my personal life because it is not just a “study guide,” but a guide to application of the principles of the gospel in dealing with any challenge.
The question of how to take the Spirit as my guide moment by moment puzzled and troubled me for years. I read stacks of books, prayed many prayers, and cried many tears trying to make it real in my life. I yearned to know how to translate all my sincere service and activity in the Church into a sense of sureness and oneness with the Lord. Although I often felt the Spirit, I was more often troubled and distressed. I was missing much of the joy.
As my children grew up, I grieved that I had not known how to adequately teach them HOW to repent and come to Christ because I didn’t know how to do it myself. Then, in the late 90s, I was led to read He Did Deliver Me from Bondage, a book which opened the door to spiritual progress. First I read it cover to cover, and my spirit resonated with the message. Here was freedom from false traditions and myths! Here were gospel truths of the Book of Mormon, simplified, organized, and taught with the Spirit in page after page of sweet, humble testimony of the saving power of Christ. I was deeply touched and fed by powerful insights into the application of gospel principles. I took the author’s words to heart:
“This isn’t a book you just read or a series of lectures you just listen to. This is a course, a journey, a program. . . . You must be willing to “experiment” upon these words, to act upon these correct principles. This is a spiritual program of action.”
I went back and began to follow the suggested Book of Mormon study assignments. Almost immediately, I realized I was being tutored on how to come to Christ, how to repent, how to implement the shining beautiful principles of the gospel, and finally, how to take the Spirit as my Guide more consistently, not just now and then.
What Does It Contain, and Who Is It For?
What is contained within the pages of He Did Deliver Me from Bondage? Each chapter takes one of the Twelve Steps that originated with Alcoholics Anonymous and “likens” it unto us as Latter-days Saints. Colleen verifies the inspiration of these twelve principles with specific Book of Mormon scriptures and words of the prophets. She shows how these twelve principles unlock the power we have been promised in the Book of Mormon to get us closer to God than any other book ever written.
With the discussion of each principle, He Did Deliver Me provides spiritually provocative assignments, study of related scriptures, and thought-provoking questions. Each chapter, assignment, and study question shimmers with the Spirit. I came to realize, as I studied and implemented these twelve principles in my life, that they must truly be among those gospel principles the Prophet Joseph was referring to when he said, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” The principles have application to every problem in life. Why? Because the answer to every problem lies in implementing scriptural guidance according to the Spirit–and He Did Deliver Me from Bondage explains how to do that.
Who is this book for? Though it is presented as a help for those struggling with addictive or compulsive behaviors, it is in all truth for anyone who needs the Lord’s help. No one is excepted from that definition. Whether we have ever dealt with addiction in our own lives or our loved ones’ lives, sooner or later, we all face problems we can’t solve or challenges we can’t do anything about–try as we might. Yet they stubbornly block a path we must walk, a bridge we must cross and cannot avoid. The unavoidable, insurmountable crisis may be brought on by health or relationship problems, natural disasters, foolish choices–or by the sinful use of our own or a loved ones’ agency.
We do all we can do–we seek relief, assistance, or healing everywhere–to no avail. We find nothing can stop the situation from being real, nothing can remove us from the terrible sadness we feel. Only when we have come to this place devoid of earthly hope, are we likely to be humble enough to open our hearts to the Lord’s answers for us. Let me summarize Colleen’s story, and how she got to that place in her life.
A Glimpse into the Life of the Author
Colleen Harrison suffered extreme abuse as a child in an alcoholic home. However, as a teenager she found the Church, embraced the gospel with all her heart, and was determined to “live happily ever after.” She married another convert with a similarly dysfunctional background and became an “over-achiever” in every area she considered righteous.
She embraced motherhood and homemaking, reveled in her roles, and studied every book she could find on those subjects. (Colleen became the mother of twelve children and is now also the step-mother of five more!) She revered the prophets and apostles, held at least three positions in every ward she lived in, insisted on having–and usually led–family prayer and FHE. But listen to her words: “Despite all this external religious activity, [Pay attention to that word “external”] I was being pushed to the verge of insanity by several hidden realities and one not so hidden (my overeating and overweight). I struggled with intense bouts of fear, confusion, and anger, which in turn seemed to fuel unwise (mostly private) choices in how I ate, how I handled finances, and how I interacted with my husband and children. Depression stalked me every moment I wasn’t overeating, overspending, overreacting, oversleeping, overworking, overdoing. I felt lonely, lost, empty, disconnected, sick with regret for a lifetime of sins (even the ones from my equally confused youth, which I had ‘cleared up’ with the bishop years ago).
“My skyrocketing weight with its potentially life-threatening complications finally stopped my feverish effort to help myself with just one more good deed or one more secret excess of food. I finally gave up trying to pretend that I could ever work my way into a sense of worthiness. I told the Lord, “I can’t go on like this. I’m dying, not thriving.”
Book of Mormon Keys
What happened to Colleen that literally transformed her life? You will read that story in the preface material as Meridian begins the serialization of He Did Deliver Me from Bondage next week. But let me summarize for now: Colleen learned that the concept of “addiction” applied to more than just alcohol and drug abuse; she was able to recognize her own addictions to food and perfectionism. She was introduced to the spiritually-based recovery process outlined in the inspired “Twelve Step Program” that originated with Alcoholics Anonymous. She was led by the hand of the Lord to correlate those twelve principles with the principles and doctrines of the Restored Gospel as found specifically in the Book of Mormon.
Colleen says, “I guess you could say that “recovery” is the key word in the whole program. There is no greater “recovery” any of us will ever experience than that of being recovered and restored to a living, loving, walking, conversing relationship with our very real and very available Savior. I learned that focusing on the spiritual life so exquisitely demonstrated and taught in the Book of Mormon was the missing link– instead of the external busy-work that had previously comprised my religious life.
In Matthew 7:21-23 the Savior spoke of those who had done many good works in His name but had never come to know Him. I realized I was one of them. I had been too busy serving in the Lord’s kingdom, to ever become friends with the King. These twelve principles, sought for and found in abundance in the teachings of the Restored Gospel, have prepared me and led me along a pathway to a sure witness of the reality of Jesus Christ and our Father who sent Him to be my Savior and closest Friend.”
Through Colleen’s own struggles and difficult life experiences she was humbled to the dust. Through seeking the Spirit consistently and through being tutored by the Holy Ghost, she was blessed to record a clear, understandable format of gospel application. He Did Deliver Me from Bondage tells how to live and daily implement the simple principles of faith, repentance, keeping baptismal covenants and living by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
With the urging of a group of fellow LDS members interested in the Twelve Steps, Colleen began to abridge and condense hundreds of pages of notes and reflections in her personal “scripture journals,” into the book that you will now read on Meridian. It was 1991 when Colleen first shared the finished manuscript in loose leaf form with close friends. Within months others had rallied around her to help with professionally editing and type-setting it. Then a miraculous offer was made of funds to pay for the first bound printing. In the thirteen years since then, the study guide, went through several printings and one revision to update some of the prophetic quotes. Sales of the book have grown each year, and now over 50,000 copies are in the hands of grateful recipients. This inspired book has been used as the official study guide for two extensive programs designed especially for LDS people.
1. Heart t’ Heart, an addiction recovery program organized and led by faithful Latter-day Saints. Heart t’ Heart is a community resource for LDS people who deal with the effects of addiction and/or abuse in their own lives or the lives of loved ones.
2. For the last eight years He Did Deliver Me from Bondage has been used as the study guide for the official LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Programs (A.R.P).
Many Problems, One Solution
Spirituality is the antidote for not only addiction, but for every malady or challenge we face in these last days. Colleen has had people tell her this book should be subtitled “A Survivor’s Manual for the Last Days.” The miracle of He Did Deliver Me from Bondage continues to spread as more and more Latter-day Saints, even those who are not dealing with addictive behaviors, are finding the power in these twelve principles to enhance and focus their spiritual lives.
We invite you to join with those of us who continue to benefit from these righteous principles. As we participate in the church-wide program of scripture study during 2004, it will be a year for all of us to spend more and more of our lives under the divine tutelage of the Book of Mormon. I pray that the Holy Spirit cleanse our hearts of pride and envy, and replace them with faith, hope, and charity. May our lamps be full of oil!
Because there are always new books enticing me, it is unusual for me to return again and again to a book. However, I have now been through He Did Deliver Me from Bondage many times. I return to it whenever a seemingly unsolvable problem looms in my life. I find that the principles highlighted in its pages apply to whatever “new” problem I’m facing. The Spirit always speaks to me through the amazing collection of scriptures and prophetic quotes found there–probably because I am inevitably drawn into more intense prayer and into the Book of Mormon in a very personal way.
I bear my personal testimony that He Did Deliver Me from Bondage has helped me to feel joy and anticipation, rather than dread when I read the following words: “Yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord.” (D&C 133:10)
Colleen’s books can be found at most LDS bookstores and also ordered online from www.rosehavenpublishing.com.