The Bible is a great book for people who crash and burn because the Bible is full of stories about people who crash and burn. In fact, the nation of Israel, as a whole, experienced a crash and burn. They got greedy and forgot God. Then everything unraveled…fast.
God taught them a lesson by sending them to live in exile in Babylon for seventy years. That exile is a great metaphor for what happens when we crash and burn. It’s the time we need after a major failure in our life to stop, reflect and recover from what just happened.
Over the next few posts I want to talk about what makes exile so valuable to recovery from a crash and burn.
Why Exile is Valuable to Recovering from a Crash & Burn
1. Exile separates you from the temptations of your past
God knew that the only way to break the cycle of sin in his people was to totally separate them from their environment. He had to pull them out of their routine and what was familiar to get their attention and break their habits. That’s why we go to the gym to exercise or move to college to study. That’s why we go on retreats to rest or send our kids to camp. Separation helps us to focus on developing good habits.
Your failure may have separated you from your old crowd and you hate it. I see this working in a treatment center. People lament being separated from their friends but it’s the best thing for them. Too many people think they can stay around temptation and still change but it’s a lot easier to change if they get away.
2. Exile helps you start over.
Exile brings closure to what was and enables you to start the next chapter of your life. When you crash and burn you don’t just need to improve a little. You don’t need a little rehabilitation. You need a total makeover. You need a resurrection. But before resurrection there needs to be a death and a burial. And exile is the burial.
Exile is the space between your old life and your new life. You need that space. It looks like this.
- Death: Crash & Burn (Major Failure)
- Burial: Exile (Separation from your past life and friends)
- Resurrection: Restoration to a new life
Exile is a time of transition. It’s a rite of passage. You can’t go from failure to success without a season of exile. It’s true for a physical, emotional, moral or spiritual breakdown. There is always a time of recovery. You can’t just snap your fingers and have all your problems go away and jump back into your old life.
People often don’t understand this. They think of exile like a bad dream. They just want to wake up and get on with their life. But that’s not how it works. There are some very important dynamics that only happen in exile. You can’t get these dynamics anywhere else and so you can’t afford to miss the exile.
It’s like a seed in the ground. You don’t go from a dry seed to a living plant without a time of transition. A seed needs time in the ground. It seems like such a waste of time. But even though it doesn’t look like much is happening a lot is happening inside the seed. That seed is making preparations for new life and that can only happen in the ground. Jesus said…
…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24
I’ll continue with this discussion in my next post.
Question: What’s the hardest thing about the exile that leads to recovery? Leave your comment below.