QUITTING cold turkey is the most heroic of acts, and God grants us all opportunities to achieve such feats. But relapse is not uncommon. I quit smoking at least six times (for at least a few months up to a few years) before I finally gave it away fourteen years ago. It was the same with the drink, but I did need a programmed intervention for that.
A strength of the AA program is its approach to relapse, but it is also its weakness. Plenty of those who see themselves as alcoholics do so in order that they never relapse, because they never accord themselves the luxury (or buffoonery) of picking up even one more drink. One weakness is that AA’s may never transcend the label, and continue to consider themselves alcoholics, which also part of the mastery of AA to recover drunks into sobriety. Thankfully, AA teaches people the model of spiritual progress based on the revolutionary Twelve Step Program.
I’ve been around recovery programs enough to know that relapses are both feared and shunned. And this is sad. Sure, relapse is always disappointing.
But the fact is, relapse will be a reality for some, and everyone will experience relapse in some form or other during their lifetime.
There is a sanctity in the relapse, in that there is the redemptive nature of the second (even the sixty-second) chance. Recovery itself is a second chance.
It’s the same regarding evangelism and faith. We sow the seed of the gospel and it falls on various kinds of soil. Few get it first time. Some get it initially. Most will ‘relapse’ back into the world. Many will never return to God, but some of the most do reconvert in powerful ways.
It isn’t our prerogative nor even our business when others near us relapse. Other than to support them. We certainly have no business criticising or condemning them. It’s God’s mercy that forgives their relapse, just as it is God’s grace to bring them back.
It’s also none of our business who commit to God and who don’t. That’s God’s business. Ours is to simply remain faithful in presenting the message of God faithfully.
God’s love is so potent and so perfect that He allows every person their will every step of the way. Transformation happens only when a person’s will joins with God’s will. That’s the sanctity in the relapse — it is in every person’s sovereign power and choice to relapse or recover and be transformed.
There is sanctity in relapse because God never gives up seeking us for our recovery. It is for God’s redemptive purpose that we both relapse and recover. It is all about learning.
God love’s us too much to save us from our learning.