Imagine you’re on a boat in the middle of the lake. The day is perfect – not too hot, and no wind whatsoever. Because of the lack of wind, there aren’t any ripples on the water. Not a stirring. It looks like a pane of glass below you. Completely calm. Totally placid.
So you jump in and swim for a while. But when you return to the exact spot where you left the boat, you find that it has moved. Maybe not much, but it has moved nonetheless. How can that be?
There’s no wind. And consequently no waves. Still no disturbances on the water. Yet the boat has moved. It has drifted.
Even though the surface of the water looks completely calm, below the surface there are still currents. They might be slight – not even noticeable if you are in the water – but they’re there. Because they are, the boat will always drift. Slowly, sure – but drift nonetheless.
Our hearts are like that. Everything might look calm on the surface. We might not be facing a major crisis; might not be under undue amounts of stress; might be secure in our health and career; might not have any pressing doubts or questions about God and His work in the world. And yet there is always an undercurrent of sin in our hearts. That means if we aren’t active to prevent it, we will always drift. And the drift is often slow. Barely even noticeable. But it’s there.
We see this dynamic as play in Psalm 1:1:
How happy is the one who does not
walk in the advice of the wicked
or stand in the pathway with sinners
or sit in the company of mockers!
See the progression? The man described here did not intend to keep company with the wrong crowd. At least not at first. At first, it was just a conversation that led to a decision. Just walking along. But then walking turned stationary and the man was a little further along. Until eventually he took up some kind of residence with evil. He walked, then he stood, then he just sat down.
Here is the creep of sin, and the way we drift into it. Sin starts small – just a little compromise. But it never stays that way. We walk with it, then stand with it, then sit down right in the middle of it. And the most frightening part is that we never really intended to. It just sort of happened. We drifted into this place.
You can drift into sin unless you anchor yourself down. Unless you’re willing to take action against it, we will always follow this progression – walking, standing, then eventually sitting in the middle of it.
But while you can drift into sin, you can’t drift into holiness. Psalm 1 is calling the man who does not drift blessed, because he does something different. Instead of drifting from walking to standing to sitting, he goes another way:
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night (Psalm 1:2).
No drift here. Here is a commitment to God’s Word. Here is a choice to read it, learn it, and think on it again and again. Drift is complacent; but meditation is active. And so may it be with us today.
Let us recognize our own tendency to drift. Let us realize that if we do nothing, we will always drift toward sin. Let us instead be active and anchor ourselves to that which is strong enough to keep us from drifting – the unchanging Word of God.