The Deep End of the Pool
Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 1 Timothy 4:15
In any addictive behavior, whether it’s drugs, smoking, gambling, pornography, gluttony, anger, or shopping, the behavior grows to consume more of life than anyone ever intended. That’s the definition of an addiction – losing control and repeating some self-destructive behavior over and over, despite painful consequences. No one plans it. We start out in the shallow end of the pool, just dipping our toes in. Then, because we get some immediate gratification from the behavior, we wade deeper and deeper until we’re in over our heads, drowning in our struggle. Submerged and overcome by our addiction, life inevitably comes apart in some agonizing way.
In the pain of consequence, the one addicted will often commit to radical transformation. He’ll promise God, his family, and himself that he’ll change everything – and he means it. He may change or quit a job. He likely stops going to the bar and may even go to treatment. Perhaps he abandons certain toxic relationships and begins going to church. He desperately wants a new life and he commits to it. Just as he was once in the deep end of the addiction pool, he now jumps into the deep end of the recovery pool, immersing himself in it. And it works – while he stays there.
Ask anyone who’s relapsed after a period of extended sobriety though, why they relapsed. They will all tell you the same thing – They stopped doing what it took to stay in recovery. They became victims of their own success, believing that they were fine. I’ve recovered now. I’m good. I don’t have to keep going to meetings and working on my recovery. Maybe I can even hang out with my old friends at the bar . . .
In today’s passage, Paul reminded Timothy, his protégé, that he must continue to immerse himself in the teachings of Christ. There was no arrival or finish line in this life, at which point Timothy could stop growing. As a pastor of the Ephesian church, you’d think maybe he’d earned some time off. Paul said though, that as a disciple of Christ, he must continue to grow, throwing himself into the teachings of Christ, being continually transformed.
We once committed ourselves wholeheartedly to our addiction. Now, in sobriety, we must throw ourselves completely into our faith and recovery. Often, we want just a little change, but if we change little, we get little change. Radical transformation requires radical transformation. If we want the new life, we must be willing to change everything, immersing ourselves in it. We don’t simply decide to believe in Christ and then walk away. Belief is just the beginning of immersing ourselves in God.