Gravity and Relapse
I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. John 16:1
Those of us who have made an honest attempt to flee the misery of our addiction don’t often plan to go back. We don’t work at recovery day after day and then suddenly decide to use again. Relapse isn’t usually a single moment event. Rather, it’s a process of gravity and apathy. In my own first attempt at recovery, I had great intentions. I went to meetings and I truly thought that I’d never relapse. Thankfully that’s all behind me.
Gradually though, I stopped going to meetings or working at my sobriety. Recovery was a lot of hard work, and in my apparent success, I grew apathetic. In my complacency, I began to wonder if I could use again. Eventually, when the opportunity presented itself, I took the pills, and you know what happened? Nothing. Except I got what I wanted and got away with it! Or so I thought. No immediate consequences reinforced my relapse behavior. See, I can have just one. Only “just one” eventually turned into a thousand, and soon, I was back in active addiction.
I didn’t set out to fall. I just stopped beating my wings, and gravity did the rest. This is my nature. If I don’t purposefully pursue recovery, I inherently pursue me and my addictions. This is the principle that Jesus taught in today’s passage.
In the narrative, Jesus insisted that his disciples must daily follow him, obeying his commands. He was going to leave them, but he was also going to send the Holy Spirit to guide them. Just as they once followed Christ, they must continue to follow God’s Spirit so that they would not drift away from the faith.
Jesus understood gravity and he knew it was our nature to gradually fall away. Sure, his disciples followed when he was with them, but what would happen when he was gone? Jesus knew that if they didn’t make the daily conscious choice to follow God, gravity would work its inexorable effect, returning them to their own self-destructive path.
So, what are we following? Do we daily abandon our way to follow Christ? Or have we become complacent and apathetic, allowing the gravity of our nature to drag us back to following ourselves? If we truly want to know the joy of faith and recovery, then we must daily do whatever it takes to pursue those things.