This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit with some friends I haven’t seen in a really long time. As I was getting caught up with one of them, he started sharing about his addiction to alcoholism, and his journey to recovery. As he shared his testimony, I heard him repeat one of the themes I hear every time I talk with an addict who is successful in recovery: lasting recovery only comes when you “work the program”. I’ve heard the converse truth of that as well: you stumble in recovery when you stop “working the program” - which means you stop going to meetings, stop working the 12 steps, and stop checking in with your sponsor. My friend described it like this when he said, “I started drinking again every time I stopped doing what I knew I needed to do.”
As I listened to my friend talk, I was reminded of my own “recovery” process - the process of leaving my own sinful nature behind, and instead, living fully as God calls me to live. It's a recovery journey that every believer begins after giving our lives to Christ. It’s the action of allowing God to show us the sin in our lives, and then surrendering that sin to Him. It's the means to becoming new people - of learning to think and act differently. Ephesians 4:21-23 describes it like this, “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God - truly righteous and holy.”
That is the recovery process every believer is called to “work.” And just like many recovering addicts, there may be times of recovery, and times of relapse. And usually what precedes our relapse is the same for us as it is for the addict: we stop doing what we know we need to do. In other words, we stop reading our Bibles, we stop fellowshipping with other believers, and we stop seeking God first in all we do. It may not happen in one fell swoop, often it's a slow process of small decisions. But the end result is the same - we slip back into living according to our old nature, and before we know it we have lost our way.
So today, let's commit to doing what we know to do. Let's spend time with God, both in His Word and in prayer. Let’s commit to living in full obedience and continue to allow God to transform us into the people we're called to be.