I just watched a movie about Olympian Louis Zamperini called “Unbroken.” After an accidental plane crash Louis found himself stranded on a raft in the middle of the ocean with two other guys. As soon as they sloshed into the raft the battle with hopelessness began because no one knew where they were located.
Why were they hopeless? Why were they in trouble?
Because no one drifts to where they want to go.
With no paddles, no sails, and no motorized help these men found themselves at the mercy of the ocean currents. They had no control over where they would wind up — or if they would end up anywhere at all.
Sure enough, after floating and barely surviving for 45 days , Louis drifted into enemy territory where he was captured and tortured.
Seeing the physical depiction of these men floating in the vast ocean reminded me once again that drifting is dangerous. It’s physically dangerous, and it’s spiritually dangerous. Floating towards a holy and healthy life is about as likely as Louis floating home. It’s just not going to happen. In fact, like Louis, spiritual drift will take us to places we don’t want to go. The currents of our sinful nature and this world we live in are just too strong.
Unless we deliberately push against the current of sin — we will get caught in the current and we know that the currents of sin move us towards death. (Romans 6:23; James 1:15)
Last week we started our look at Psalm 119 — and it begins with a description of those that are happy.
This look at the happy person carries over into the verses we’ll look at today. I’m pretty sure that Louis wasn’t happy as he was drifting on the ocean, and I find that when I’m drifting through life — I’m not that happy either.
The happy person is the person who doesn’t do anything wrong. That’s easy enough to get. But notice how the writer of this Psalm makes a point to add, “they WALK in His ways.” The happy person isn’t one who just happens to be pure, innocent, and guiltless — the happy person is the one who is intentionally walking in the ways of God.
If we want to move towards happiness — then we need to pick up the paddles of God’s Word and begin pressing against the current of sin. It does no good to simply pick up the paddles to look at and study them. We’ve got to insert the paddles of God’s Word into our lives.
That’s why James says:
God has commanded us to keep His Word diligently because He loves us. He has equipped us with what we need and is cheering us on towards real happiness and real blessedness. To fight the flow of sin in our lives that leads to death — we’ve got to be diligent. We’re in the middle of a war – we must fight or be taken. We’re in the middle of an ocean — we must move with intention or we are going to drift.
We’re just never going to be accidentally obedient. There is no keeping God’s Word on accident. David saw that the happy person needed God’s Word. The happy person needed to be diligent about knowing and keeping God’s Word.
I don’t know about you, but I just get down-right tired and discouraged. In those moments, drifting is pretty attractive because it’s much easier. Even if I know that it will lead me to long term misery — it’s lure is in the fact that it brings some short-term relief. Some short-term “happiness.”
It’s a bad trade though. We need to keep reminding each other of that. We’re all in the same boat and it’s tragic to see those that we love trade in long-term happiness for short-lived relief. So this is my reminder to you and myself. I know that being diligent is hard. It’s crazy hard. But I truly believe that it’s worth it. I believe what God says. I believe that the diligent are happy — and those who aren’t are headed for misery.
This isn’t necessarily about salvation. It’s about worship. It’s about taking advantage of the abundant life Jesus has for us. It’s about trusting that God is the source of all things good — the source of real Life — and trusting His directions on how to obtain these things.
Press on diligently friend! Maybe press in deeper. Don’t drift! Pick up the paddles of God’s Word – apply it to your life — and you’ll find yourself headed towards happiness.