If you have ever just drifted on an inner tube on what you think is just 'still water', you probably realize that even the stillness of those waters had some type of 'under-current' that caused you to drift slowly away from where you began. Just because something looks 'still' doesn't mean it won't cause drift. I have learned to stay away from raging waves because the under-tow is totally evident - I would likely get carried away, sucked under, and have a hard time getting free. I haven't quite learned that same lesson about the 'still waters' I think will not be of any harm to me in life. In fact, I forget just how much 'drift' can occur when I just settle in and lose focus! There you are on that inner tube, waters are seemingly still, then you open your eyes and see just how far away from the shoreline you really are! Lose focus for even a while and drift is likely to impact your life in big ways.
Give me back the joy that comes from being saved by you. Give me a spirit that obeys you so that I will keep going. (Psalm 51:12)
David wrote the 51st Psalm as a prayer of repentance - because he had lost focus. He didn't realize how small compromises amounted to even bigger ones until he noticed how far he had 'drifted from shore'. Too many times we allow subtle compromises into our lives and believe it or not, the small under-current of those compromises begins to pull us further and further away from 'shore' - from solid anchor in our lives. The joy we once experienced by being firmly anchored in Christ begins to fade, our spirit begins to shrivel up from not being infused afresh with the life-giving presence of God. Our choices begin to show the lack of connection - they are slowly changing from what we know to be right and good toward what we know could one day bring us harm.
David finds himself in that awkward place of having drifted just a bit too far from shore. Compromise has moved from the 'small things' to the 'bigger things'. His choices have not been wise - his actions have not only hurt him, but others, as well. Fully aware of where he finds himself, he does what each of us may have also done at one time or another - he compounds his drift by panicking! He panics because his sin is 'discoverable' and now he needs to cover it up, so he compounds his sin with an even bigger one. To his adultery he adds murder! Panic leads to many a wrong decision, just in case you were wondering. Panic in the middle of the lake on that inner tube and you might just find yourself capsized and swimming for safety once again!
The moment David realizes just how far he was from 'shore' in his life, he turns toward shore and begins to cry out. He doesn't attempt to make for shore all on his own accord. He calls out for help. There is a lesson in his response to finding just how far away he had gotten from 'safe anchor' in his life - the lesson of repentance. He cries out for forgiveness - he knows there is nothing he can do to deliver himself from this 'drift' - he needs God's rescue. If you have never read this Psalm, take a moment to look at how he moves from admitting how much he has drifted, how his whole life seems to be turned upside down, and how much he realizes just how much grace he needs in order to find shore again. To this he adds an acknowledgement that his joy is gone - that he realizes the joy of the Lord in his life is directly linked to the spirit that is submitted in total obedience to God.
The drift happened. It was too late to 'take back' his sin. All he could do was cry out for help. He knew where he needed to be - back in the arms of Jesus. He knew he could not 'swim for it' on his own. He needed God's help for restoration of 'anchorage' in his life. None of us will always be perfectly anchored in life, but whenever we find our anchorage has slackened and we have allowed a little drift to occur, there is but one response to the drift - we cry out for deliverance. Just sayin!