Our family often goes on a vacation with a number of our friends to a cottage up north. One of the activities our families enjoy is taking the ridiculous number of kids we have and piling them onto a pontoon boat.
And then we hang out on the water.
A couple of times this ended up with our families beaching the boat at a sand bar so we could let the kids out and play. And inevitably, because the boat was beached and not anchored, one of us would look over at the boat and see the boat was beginning to drift away.
We always caught the boat thankfully. But what is fascinating is that the people on the boat never realized it. They were eating, hanging out, and relaxing and drifting away from shore without every noticing.
This is how drifting works though. It’s subtle. It happens slowly and it’s not until somebody points it out that you even realize it is happening. This happens on beaches all the time; you are hanging out in the water and swimming when all of the sudden you look up and realize you’ve drifted down shore without even noticing it.
The Drift Away from the Garden
In Genesis 3:24, there’s an interest observation that has significant implications for us as Christians.
“After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden a cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”
East of the Garden.
After Adam and Eve sin, they are moved eastward. Out of the Garden and away from God.
And then in Genesis 4, we read about a story of two brothers. A story of a brutal murder. And then at the end of this story, the writer makes a simple note about the murderer-brother.
“Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.”
There’s a drift that is taking place. And Cain not only drifts eastward, but he settles there. He puts down roots and builds a city; he makes his home in the east. There’s this feeling in the first four chapters of Genesis and throughout the entire history of the Israelites that they are going the wrong way.
We are all east of Eden. We all drift eastward.
“So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?” - Hebrews 2:1-3 (NLT)
This is the tendency of the human heart, there is a slow drift away from the truth we have heard.
We see it in Adam and Eve, we see it in Cain, we see it in the Judges, and in a man like David. All of us are blown about by the wind and the waves of this world and are pulled by the currents of our own hearts.
And Hebrews makes clear what it is that we drift away from when he says, “We ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself.” We drift away from the promise that Jesus proclaims to us. We move eastward and begin building cities for ourselves instead of building our lives on the finished work of Jesus.
And our eastward drift is only stopped by the promise of the cross.
The cross jumps into the middle of this mess with a message that brings us back home. The Good News comes to us as we’ve gone eastward and re-orients us. It curves our me-centered hearts outward. It declares to us our sins are forgiven and jolts us out of the drift and makes sure we cannot “ignore this great salvation.” Jesus jumps into the storm and despite the currents of our own hearts, he changes the course and brings us back home.