Recently I returned home from one of my favorite places to visit, the Isle of Palms, or IOP, South Carolina. I have been fortunate to visit often since 1989, it is a home away from home. A place I walk with my dogs early in the morning as they run and play off leash. Because I have just finished a bible study on Hebrews this last visit was especially meaningful due to the instructors analogy of “drifting away” and the ocean. The second chapter of Hebrews teaches us “to hold on to what we have been taught, lest we drift away”. It is a clear teaching that we must live intentionally for Christ. We cannot simply float around and think we are okay. She gave a great illustration of a riptide pulling tugging you along and you not being aware of how far you have traveled down the beach. You do not even realize how far you have drifted until you make your way to shore and have to walk 200 yards back to your chair and cold drink! She went even further to give the riptide a name, the Devil; that prowling lion who is out to kill, steal and destroy us.
I have felt this very current many times while playing in the ocean. Sometimes the riptide is mild and other days it can literally pull you under water leaving you gasping for breath. When I was 3 years old I was pulled under the surf by a powerful undertow along the Oregon coast. My dad was franticly trying to find me as I rolled over and over in the current. My parents thought I would die or at least be terrified of the ocean after that day. By God’s grace and mercy my father was able to grab my tender foot and pull me to safety. I am so fortunate that he saved me and also that I have no memory of that day or a fear of water or the ocean. I only have their stories of the day I nearly died and was rescued.
Taking this thought even deeper I thought of the possibility of floating into harm’s way without even having a clue. There is an inlet between Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island called “Breech Inlet”. It has warning signs posted everywhere on huge white signs that warn people of the dangerous currents and riptides. No swimming is allowed and it warns people stay out of this inlet at all tides, high and low, but especially during the tidal shifts. It can be very deceptive at low tide. Seeing those exposed sandbars is enticing and it can be quite an adventure to explore underwater spaces during low tide. After all you can walk to the sandbar at low tide in ankle deep water, but without warning the tide shifts and suddenly you find you must swim in deep water fighting the destructive currents the entire way back. I know, I have been out there before, not actually in the inlet, but nearby and I have had to swim hard to get back.
Your christian walk must be an intentional walk. Jesus tells us to turn away from sin that so easily entangles us and to walk with our hand on the plow, not looking back. He sends the Holy Spirit to be our counselor and teacher to instruct us on the Way, His Way. It is a race and once we start we can only go one direction on the track or course. It can be slow like the tortoise or crazy like the hare, but we are on an endurance race no matter. Our destination is Jesus and along the way we are to tell as many as we can about this eternal and amazing prize, a man/God Christ Jesus, who takes away our sin and redeems our lives. It is an intentional trip, no looking back. Jesus even goes so far to tell us if we turn back we are not fit to enter the kingdom of God. Wow! Strong words. We cannot casually walk in and out of our faith when we need it. We cannot walk into church once in awhile and think we are just fine. The pastor of Hebrews tells his flock that many are in the habit of not meeting together, but they are not to fall into that trap. We encourage each other while together, to be alone is not safe, two are better than one, a strand of three is not easily broken. We will inevitably wake up hundreds of yards away from the truth if we do not pursue Christ with all our hearts, souls and minds. And do not forget while drifting away we could end up in a sudden and violent current that steals our life, family, livelihood or friends.
The writer of Hebrews implores us to remember what we have been taught, actively pursue Jesus, consider Jesus, stay in weekly gatherings with other believers at a church AND in small groups. The devil is the riptide and he does not slow down in his pursuit to steal, destroy and attempt to kill us. He is a ravenous lion seeking whom he can destroy. He comes when we are distracted, when he can deceive us, when we have drifted away from sound doctrine and believe tales of angels and false christs.
So walk in a manner worthy of your calling, look to Jesus, who saw the joy before him and endured death, even death on a cross and ignored the disgrace it brought Him. He is our example, He is our lifeboat when we do drift, He does and will rescue us when we cry out to Him. Know Him, Know the Truth, stay the course and above all remember the race. Imagine if a coach told you to come to practice when you could, work out if you felt like it or that training once a week on your own for an hour was sufficient to expect a victory in the game Friday night. Coaches have daily practice, off season training schedules, dietary requirements for optimal health and in addition to physical workouts, mental training for plays, positions, defensive and offensive strategies. An effective coach knows what is needed for victory and if he sees a team member not actively participating he will cut them. This is how I understand Christ’s words about not being fit for the kingdom. Jesus knows what we need for victory over our adversary and He coaches us to practice daily, learn the plays, memorize mental and physical muscle memory skills, be part of the team meetings and practices, (even in solo sports there are many components), and to know the playbook by heart. This is the walk of a Christian. Do not drift away, stay the course, for we run not for a crown that fades but for an eternal crown for His glory.
Have a blessed week and pursue Jesus diligently and remember His words the next time you are floating in the ocean.
God Bless, your sister in Christ,
ponytail and boots