“To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it.
But we must not drift or lie at anchor.”
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
How much of our lives are spend drifting or anchored? We’ve lost direction, lost motivation, or maybe life’s just become so challenging that we’ve anchored in a lovely inlet and are just listening to the waves lap against the side of the boat, enjoying the gentle rocking of the boat that they produce.
Often I’ve caught myself in this same situation – drifting or anchored, doing nothing significant that produces anything of value. From these times great problems can arise.
For one, depression can darken our days. Anxiety often becomes an unwanted companion. Laziness can overtake a previously productive life. Addictions flourish in the life of one who is drifting or anchored. Never does anything good come from simply drifting in life.
We allow life to simply happen to us. We are not attacking life with our normal optimism and zeal. There’s no intentionality, no determined choices, no direction at all.
Our sails are down, the rudder is flapping aimlessly with every changing current, the anchor clenches the rocks beneath the water, and we sleep below deck. Purposelessness overwhelms us.
The Bible tells us of several people whose lives reflected great periods of drift or anchoring. The outcomes in their lives and those of others are always negative.
Look at the opening verse of Second Samuel chapter eleven…
“Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.”
2 Samuel 11:1 NASB (Emphasis mine.)
Notice the drift in King David’s life? He “sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel;” “but David stayed at Jerusalem.”
David was drifting aimlessly, and all hell was going to break loose for him, Bathsheba, Uriah, Joab, and the entire nation of Israel. David’s consequences would become a burden he bore till the day he died. All for a few moments of pleasure with a woman who was not his wife.
You can read the rest of the story of David and Bathsheba in Second Samuel chapter eleven and twelve. The Bible doesn’t paint a pretty picture of the horrific outcomes of David’s drift!
What about our lives? Are we adrift? Have we lost focus? Have we become so unintentional in life that we’re bewildered, experiencing relationship breakdown, losing opportunities at home with loved ones and at work, and brings burdensome remorse?
I encourage you to think deeply about Holmes’ quote. Consider if you’re drifting or anchored. Look at your life. Is it aimless and empty of purpose? Or is it moving in a determined direction?
Read the remainder of Second Samuel chapters eleven and twelve and see if you’ve become, like David, good at “sending” others but “staying” alone and apart by yourself.