Several years ago at an annual physical, my doctor took the opportunity to throw some cold water on my overall health. I walked into the appointment frankly feeling pretty good about myself. I was exercising, eating reasonably well, and sleeping just fine. And she agreed – my overall health was good. And yet…
And yet, she explained, that once you reach a certain age, you will naturally gain two pounds per year. That is to say, if you kept everything exactly and precisely consistent from one year to the next, you would still gain two pounds. Her point was that if you wanted to maintain a stable body weight, it’s not enough to just keep doing what you’re doing. You either have to adjust the calories coming in or the exercise going out to account for two pounds… and that’s just to weigh the same as you do now, this same time next year!
It was less than encouraging to me.
Not only because it meant I would have to do more work just to remain the same, but also because it was a reminder that I – like everything else – am in a state of decay. That my natural, physical body is not going to last forever, and every year that goes by requires more intentionality to hold my ground against that state of decay.
It occurs to me that this same thing is true not just about our physical bodies, but about most everything else. If we leave anything alone – if we don’t pay attention to it and take positive action on behalf of it – it will decay. To put it another way…
Nothing drifts in a positive direction.
That’s what happens when things are left alone, isn’t it? They drift, because they are untethered and unaccounted for. They follow the prevailing currents of whatever they’re in, be it a body of water or be it the culture around them. Without intentionality, there is always drift – and nothing drifts in a positive direction. The writer of Hebrews knew this:
We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away… (Hebrews 2:1).
There are currents all around us. And they are always moving and swirling, defining and redefining truth and reality depending on the feelings of the day. And if we don’t pay attention, we will drift right along with them. But to make matters worse, there are not only currents all around us; there are currents within us. Currents of our own feelings. Our own misshaped desires. Of our sinful hearts that cling doggedly to the unredeemed versions of ourselves. Here, too, we must pay careful attention or we will drift along with what we feel rather than the truth that we know.
And that’s how we pay careful attention – we find our understanding of what’s true and real by something bigger and better than ourselves, and something bigger and better than the culture around us. We find truth and reality in God’s revelation that never changes. That revelation serves as our anchor which keeps us in place. This is how we pay careful attention in the midst of all the currents that are constantly moving us in this direction or that – we are firmly rooted in God’s Word.
Remember, friends, nothing drifts in a positive direction. We’d better have an anchor or we will look around one day and realize we have gone places we’ve never intended.