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Slip Sliding Away: Staying the Course

Slip sliding away, slip sliding away

You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away. (Paul Simon)

 

We are all on a journey. You are hurtling at light speed into your future even as you read this.

Is where you are going where you want to be when you get there?

I wish I had asked that question many times in the past, and changed direction accordingly.

The choices we are making today, not our best intentions, determine our direction.

So stop now, and contemplate: Is where I am going – in my marriage, in who or how I’m dating, in my relationship with my parents, my kids, my friends, or with my drinking, my eating, my weight, my exercise (or lack thereof) – am I going to be happy with this direction later?

Or am I drifting off course?

 

How many of you, when you were a kid at the beach with your family, heard this from your parents: “You may swim in the ocean, but stay in front of the house so we can see you. Our house is green, with a South Carolina flag on the deck, so keep your eyes on it.”

But there was a slight current, and before I knew it I was ten houses down!

It was only a … slight … current. I didn’t even realize I had drifted so far. And now I’m in trouble.

We drift, we humans. And the problem with drifting is it typically happens so slowly, at first we don’t perceive where we are heading. Does anyone wake up and decide that day to have a marriage-ending affair, or to become an alcoholic, or to gain 30 pounds, or to end up with a C- relationship with a loved one?

Does anyone wake up one day and decide to be stressed out and uptight and not much fun to be around anymore?

No, but we drift slowly, almost unperceptively, towards these things.

So we need a ‘green house’ on the beach as a marker to keep us on course.

Here are a few suggestions:

“A Christian is someone who trusts in the knowledge and the wisdom of God, not in his own abilities. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the calm, relaxed pace which should be characteristic of the children of God.”       Oswald Chambers

Do you have a calm, relaxed pace, or are you hurried and harried? Notice there is a pace; we are not advocating sitting in a closet expecting God to run your life. But the pace is nowhere near the frenetic current of this culture – and of many of you.

Remember: Satan rushes; God guides.

When you have a calm, relaxed pace, you are on track. When you are hurried and harried, uptight and stressed, you are drifting way off track.

Or how about this ‘marker’ for relationships:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

 

When your thoughts are infiltrated with ‘me’ and ‘I,’ and you are focused only on how “This makes me feel,” you are drifting towards self-absorption and away from a healthy relationship.

 

For those of you who tend to take matters into your own hands (a nice way of saying you control and manipulate and white-knuckle to get your way) try this:

 

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

 

But when you just can’t possibly wait to see if God has a better plan than you … in due time, and you are obsessed with, “If I don’t, it won’t,” you are heading for a ditch.

And Eugene Peterson translates Jesus’ words at Matthew 11:28-30 in the most eloquent of ways for those of you who are drifting into religious legalism (“I’ve got to perform better for God to like me”) or have drifted into exhaustion and burn-out:

“Come to me. Get away with me and you will recover your life.

Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

Keep company with me and you will learn to live freely and lightly.”

 

Those “unforced rhythms of grace” are the surest path to the A+ life.

 

One last ‘marker’ for the many who are prisoners to Satan’s fear tactics:

 

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.   “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear …”    1 John 4:16-18

God loves you so perfectly you never have anything to fear – real or imagined. But fear will act as that subtle undertow, pulling you away from any hope of peace and contentment. When you sense anxiety, step back, remember God’s perfect love, trust it, and reset your course.

These are just a few markers to help you stay on the path to the “Life that is truly life.”1 But we must pay attention, or we will drift.                                                                                                         

 

God cautions us: “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”  Hebrews 2:1

 

The prophet Paul Simon observes:

Whoah God only knows, God makes his plan
The information’s unavailable to the mortal man
We’re workin’ our jobs, collect our pay
Believe we’re gliding down the highway, when in fact we’re slip sliding away

                                                                                Slip Sliding Away

 

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