We spent this past weekend at the lake with my family - celebrating my dad’s birthday and clinging desperately to the microscopic pieces of summer we have left. It makes my heart so happy to watch my kiddos play for hours in the water with their cousins and it makes my heart even happier to get to spend some quality time with my sister. That doesn’t happen often as their life in the foreign service keeps our visits few and far between. So when the opportunity arises for us to steal away for a few minutes, we take it (sometimes at the chagrin of our mother who ends up keeping an eye on all six kids. We know she really loves it, though..wink, wink).
Anyway, one such opportunity arose as all our kids were busy playing in the water and we had floated a little past them and away from the dock. We talked and relaxed and didn’t even realize how far we were floating. It wasn’t until my mom called out to us from the dock that I noticed just how far we had gone. Our lake house is positioned just on the edge of a little slough and we’d begun to drift further into it. By the time I’d realized it, we’d been carried quite a ways away from where we needed to be.
If I’m honest, that’s not the only time I’ve fallen victim to “the drift.” However most of the time when this occurs, I’m not literally being carried away by lake water. It’s more often a spiritual drift. But it happens quite the same way. I become focused or fixated on one thing going on in my life and lose sight of what’s going on around me. What’s worse is I let that thing or person or circumstance carry me away - further and further from where I’m supposed to be. And it happens so often without me noticing until something causes me to lift my head and then I see just how far I’ve moved from where I want (and need) to be.
It wasn’t until my mom called for me from the dock that I saw how far away I’d moved. I have to believe that if I’d kept my eyes on her the whole time, I’d have been less likely to let the water take me so far away. In Hebrews 12, our lives are compared to a race - a path marked out for us that we are to follow. A race that we are to run with great endurance and perseverance, removing everything that hinders or entangles us. Everything that causes us to drift. And the only way we can do that is by fixing our eyes on what is unmoving. Unchanging. Steady and Sure. Jesus Christ.
With my eyes on Jesus, I’m less likely to be distracted by sin and temptation. I’m less likely to get carried away by an unforeseen circumstance or unexpected storm of life. With my eyes on Jesus, I’ll be more aware when there’s distance between where I am and where I should be. I’ll be more prone to stay close to the One who can keep me from drifting off.
As we began to try to move back towards the dock area and my kiddos that day, I found it increasingly difficult to move against the water that was working to carry me in the opposite direction. It required much more effort to move against the drift than it did to be carried away by it. There’s a lesson found in those tired muscles that reminds me just how difficult it is to fight the drift once I’m caught up in it. Spiritually speaking, it is much harder to move against the flow once we’ve become used to “going with” it. That’s why the writer of Hebrews implores us to throw off everything that threatens to take us further away from Jesus. It’s a slow and sometimes spiritually exhausting process to return to Him, but necessary if we are to run the race set out for us - a life lived for and transformed by Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2a