Watchfulness

A twig bounced off a rock, swirled around in the eddy a few times and then, for no obvious reason, slipped back into the current, cascaded over a few rocks, paused briefly in another eddy and was off on its downstream journey. I flicked another twig stream-ward and watched. It too swirled around in the current, sometimes moving quickly, sometimes pausing in an eddy as if to catch its breath, and then it was off in pursuit of the other. Another twig, another unique path through the labyrinth of rocks and eddies, but always yielding to the current and the inevitable downward pull of gravity.

Gravity is an odd thing – a force actually. I’m not a physicist, but, like most of you, I know that gravity is a constant in our world. It never rests, never takes time off, never seems to lose its way or sense of direction…. And it effects everything. Think for a second – where do you see gravity doing its thing right where you are? As I sipped my coffee just now, the coffee was content to stay in the bottom of the cup until I did something to change the equation – I raised the cup, tipped it, and the coffee flowed downstream. Isn’t science wonderful?

Here’s the point. We live in a world that is governed by forces that we often take for granted. We’re so accustomed to them they become….well, virtually invisible. Gravity is one of those. There’s another, but from a different realm – it works in a similar fashion to gravity in that it never rests, always seems to have a downward pull to it, and will, over time, wear us out just like gravity while we’re trudging up a steep hill.

It’s called sin, and we live under its influence continually. Like gravity, we become so accustomed to it that in many regards we cease to be aware of its impact. Or at least unaware of its subtle aspects. We’re all over its big manifestations – the behaviors of the Ariel Castro’s and Anthony Weiner’s of the world, the porn addicts and pedophiles, and so on.  We see the end results of sins’ accumulated downward pull – hijacking brains and taking hearts captive, leading souls downward into brokenness.

But there’s also a subtle, inconspicuousness to it – an insidiousness that can disguise itself and lull us into complacency. This is what we must continually be on guard against.

I work with recovering sex addicts in my private practice. Their progress is determined in part by my ability to guide them into new ways of thinking and acting. Increasing their spiritual awareness is part of that process for those so inclined. As their journey progresses – often circuitously like the twigs finding their way downstream – sobriety becomes a reality. With that, comes a sense of great accomplishment.

But too often comes a relaxation of watchfulness towards that never-ending, subtle, downward pull of sin. This is why it’s often said getting sober isn’t that difficult – staying sober is.

Keep your guard up. Be watchful, “…sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (NASB, Gen 4:7b)

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