On the coast of Washington State there is a spot where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. The beach is fine but if you move too far into the water, the area is unpredictable with currents, storms, and shipwrecks. This was where Sean decided to hang out with a group of high schoolers when we were in youth ministry. What could go wrong? A few kids were on the beach and a few were lounging on surfboards as they talked and enjoyed the summer sun.
“Watch it you guys. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll get caught up in the current and we won’t be able to reach you.” Sean warned.
“Yeah, yeah, we know.”
“No. I’m really serious. You can’t let your guard down or you’ll be all the way out into the ocean.”
They agreed to pay attention and resumed their chatter.
Some time later, Sean glanced up and saw the current had caught the students. They were realizing their error but their paddling was to no avail. They hollered back and forth but Sean knew it was too late to get them back without intervention.
That was the day the Coast Guard came to the rescue and some high school kids (along with their youth pastor) learned some valuable lessons.
Drifting is consequential; it’s not intentional. It sneaks up on you when you let your guard down.
Those students weren’t trying to be irresponsible and they certainly didn’t mean to involve the Coast Guard. But they had no anchor and they hadn’t fixed their eyes on the shore like Sean instructed them to. They were looking at each other, caught up in the moment, not realizing the distraction could ultimately cost them their lives.
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. Hebrews 1:2
It’s not on purpose, but it happens crazy fast.
Real talk. If I were to “follow my heart” I’d be out in that current getting swept away in no time. My heart is bent on self-gratification and preservation. It wants everything to feel good. It tries to be the boss. It wants to gauge what is good, bad, and best for me. My heart on its own is not steadfast, sure, or anchored. It's limited. It's caught up in what's happening around me. My heart and true self cannot be discovered apart from my Creator; the One who knows me better than I know myself.
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20
My anchor is not my own willpower, strength, or heart. My anchor is Jesus Christ. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the One able to forgive my sins, give me purpose, and ground me.
I look towards 2020 and as I study Hebrews this month, I am reminded that Jesus is the safeguard for my fickle heart. It gives me rest to know I don’t have to tow the line and paddle like mad to fight the current until I collapse with exhaustion. I fix my eyes on the Anchor and hold tight.
I also realize that the longer I lean into Christ and anchor myself to Him, the more my heart is aligning with His.
He has the ability to cleanse my heart and stabilize the inconsistencies:
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
Practically for me in 2020, being anchored looks like consistent Bible study. I can’t just read a little in the morning on my own and have it sustain me. The news, social media, my kids, are all yelling at me. I need more than a verse a day to ground me, or I’m headed straight out to sea. I need accountability, study, and to talk through it with others. I have a weekly study that includes homework so I don't go a few weeks before I realize, "have I had any time in the Word lately? Feels like it wasn't too long ago..."
Being anchored looks like constant prayer. When my mind is running circles I whisper, “What do you want to show me about this?" It’s praying over people I’m going to come into contact with before I see them. It’s journaling my fears and asking God to speak truth to them…then recording the truth next to my journaled fears. It's not enough for me to pray a list of requests to the ceiling; I need to hear God's voice and wrestle in conversation that results in life change.
Being anchored involves other people who can alert me when I'm headed out to sea. Other believers–my family, friends, discussion group at Bible Study–have a role in my life to flag me down when I'm beelining in the wrong direction. Conversations about my faith and how my perspective is lining up (or not lining up) with God's perspective are daily conversations, not reserved for Sunday.
A significant part of being anchored is remembering God’s faithfulness both in Scripture and in my own life. When I see something that causes me to question His faithfulness, I don't gloss over it. I ask Him. I ask other believers. I search the Bible until I can reconcile my perspective to His.
2020 will bring more twists. It will be easy to kick back, get wrapped up in what's happening around me...and drift. I don't know what twists and currents are coming, but I absolutely know I don't want to face any of it without a sure and steady Anchor underneath me.
Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. Psalm 112:6-8
Just throwing myself out there a bit...