I look out the window. It's pouring rain again, too cold for early May, but it's still coming down in our valley. Always when I was a child, when it rained, I'd be out in it, tracking down little rivulets, swollen into streams. I'd toss in a leaf and run alongside. How long before the leaf went down? How long before it was caught in an overhanging branch?
I slip into my raincoat and head out the door. Rain splashes my face as I head for the creek. I hear it before I see it, rushing, hurrying. Quiet eddies move fast now, the water, brown and high. As I come close I pick up a winter worn oak leaf and toss it in. For a moment it lingers near the bank, twirling idly. How long before the current rises and lures it from its safe harbor? How long before it starts its race to the river? Before it goes down...down...and under?
I cover my face with my hands. I'd seen my friend in the parking lot of the super market the day before and hardly recognized her. Dark circles under her eyes gave her a haunted look. "Eva," she blurted, "I need to talk." We got into the front seat of her pick up. Tears flowing down her face, she unburdened her heavy heart. My friend was in agony.
I lift my head, look down at the brown water. My leaf is moving away. In a little while the current will take it, further and further away, drifting downward, ever downward. All of a sudden I can't stand it. The muddy bank slurps on my tennis shoes but I pay no attention. I break off the slender end of a budding vine maple branch and reach as far as I can. "Lord," I cry, "show me how to help my friend. I love her and I know she loves me." My leaf eludes me. I lean forward and snag it. I pull it to shore and the wet leaf is safe in my hands.
It stays there as I hurry home. I lay the leaf on my desk, shed my raincoat and reach for my Bible. My morning quiet time in Hebrews had been so real--so wonderful. My Lord, exalted King, Creator of the World, the angels worshipping at His feet. Then warning words of Hebrews 2:1 jump into my heart. We must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.
I remember the words of my friend Geri who has since gone to be with our loving Shepherd. "Sometimes I think the greatest thing we can do for one another is to simply remind each other who Jesus is. When we fall in love with Him with all of our heart, it's that love that will keep us from drifting into sin."
Love, commitment, prayer. Drifting can happen to anyone at any age, at whatever stage he or she may be in their spiritual journey through life. It can happen to me. It can happen to you. It can happen to the ones we love.
My damp leaf is on my desk. I place it between two sheets of paper and set my dictionary and Bible on top. Later I'll carefully tuck my pressed leaf inside my Bible. It will be a daily reminder to stand fast, to pray, to persevere, to hold out a tender hand to those in danger of drifting away.