One Foot on the Dock and One On the Boat
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4
When I was maybe five or six years old, my dad took my brother and me on one of our day fishing trips. We stopped for lunch at a marina/restaurant and while waiting for our food, I explored the dock. While looking at all the boats moored to the dock, for some reason I stepped across the water, putting one foot on a pontoon deck, while keeping my other foot on the dock. You know what happened next. The force of my weight pushed the boat away from the dock far enough that I did the splits and fell in – fully clothed. I couldn’t keep one foot on the boat and one on the dock. I needed to commit one way or the other. Unable to do so, I fell.
This is an apt illustration for today’s passage. In it, James said we have two choices in this life. We can follow the world’s path or God’s path. We cannot do both. We must choose and choosing one means abandoning the other. We can’t follow God while following the world. If we want to know God, we must abandon the world. If we choose the world, we abandon God.
This is a constant struggle. I’d like to think that it’s a one-time choice that I made long ago, but this is a daily choice and when I don’t consciously make the right decision, I’ve often found that by default, I’ve made the wrong one. I must stand on the dock or on the pontoon. I can’t do both. What do I mean by this? The most obvious example for me has been my drug use. While using, I couldn’t also enjoy the intimate relationship with the father for which I was made. As the drugs consumed more of my life, I abandoned God. Sure, I’d pray occasionally for him to take my addiction away, but I couldn’t experience a meaningful prayer life while I was using drugs.
Drugs aren’t my struggle today, but still, there are a myriad of distractions vying for my attention. Pride, gluttony, resentment, anger, selfishness, and greed all tug at my mind. While indulging in those things, I cannot also invest in my relationship with God. In turning one way, I turn away from the other. This is why Jesus described the Christian life as one of daily abandoning me to follow him. I can’t stand with one foot on the dock and one on the boat. Daily – sometimes several times a day – I must choose one or the other.