Keith Wishum: In what direction are you drifting?
Once there was a little boy who lived in the country. For bathroom facilities, his family had to use an outhouse. The little boy hated it because it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter, and it smelled bad in every season.
The outhouse was sitting on the bank of a creek, and the boy decided after a spring rain, when the creek was swollen, that would be the perfect day to push the outhouse into the creek and be rid of it. Using a board for leverage, the boy finally toppled the outhouse into the creek and watched it float away.
That evening his dad sternly said, “Someone pushed the outhouse into the creek today. It was you, wasn’t it, son?”
The boy nodded meekly. Then he thought a moment and said, “Dad, I read in school today that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and didn’t get into trouble because he told the truth.”
The dad replied, “Well, son, that’s true; but George Washington’s father wasn’t in that cherry tree at the time!”
We don’t always clearly anticipate all of the possible consequences of our actions. Toppling the outhouse seemed like fun to that little boy until he discovered that his father had been inside.
So it is with much of what we do. We never plan to start an argument that becomes a fight. It starts with a few small, cross words or some inconsiderate act, and escalates. In the same way, who decides in his early teen years that he’ll become a drug addict or an alcoholic or a career criminal? People drift into those habits that may mushroom into major disasters.
That’s why it is important to pay attention to the minor currents in life. That’s why, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” (Hebrews 2:1). We are in much greater danger of slowly and gradually drifting into trouble than we are of being blown away by some huge storm.
The solution is to pay attention, to notice what direction it is that we are drifting, and to constantly correct our course as needed.
In what direction are you drifting? Where will your current daily habits take you? If you don’t like the answer, pay attention, and change course.
After all, it may be your Father you’re trying to push over.
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church, Americus.