Getting Out of the Polar Bear Plunge
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Revelation 3:19
Years ago, I used to do the polar bear plunge every January – a fundraiser where they cut a big hole in the ice and you jump in, simply to prove you can do it. It’s a lot of fun, but when you hit the water, you have the same reaction as everyone else. You absolutely panic from the cold and rush to get out as fast as you can. There’s no thought to it. It’s simply an imperative that your body must obey – Get out now! All your energy is poured into that singular purpose, to remove yourself from the freezing water. There’s no getting distracted. You have one simple goal in life at that point – to get out.
That’s the picture I get from today’s passage, and specifically from one word – zealous. In the original Greek, the word zeloo describes a desire for something that is so desperate that all of one’s energies are poured into pursuing it. In the passage, Christ said that he disciplines those he loves and that our response to that discipline must be to zealously turn from our self-destructive ways, going the opposite direction with all possible effort. When we realize we’re in the wrong, we’re to do everything possible to stop, turn around, and go the other direction – like someone trying to get out of the icy waters of a polar bear plunge.
Once in my addiction, I did whatever it took to get my pills. When I relapsed for the final time, I had no one who would prescribe for me, so I first stole pills from family and then used my prescribing privilege to write my own prescriptions. This is horrible behavior that I’m ashamed to admit and I only do so to illustrate how far I was willing to go to get my pills.
In finding recovery, I had to do the exact opposite. I had to become so desperate for sobriety that I’d go to any length to get it. I had to become zealous, like getting out of the icy water of the polar bear plunge. There are, of course, those who think I’m a little over the top in my commitment to recovery, but they didn’t experience the misery that I did, and they don’t know what it takes to avoid going back. I may do the polar bear plunge again, but I don’t ever want to go back to my addiction, so today, and every day, I must zealously do whatever it takes to continue going the opposite direction. I may look over-zealous to some, but if it keeps me sober, I’m just fine with that.