THE DANGERS OF DRIFTING
My husband and I live on a Sturgeon Bay part of Lake Superior. Since living on the lake we have seen all kinds of boats, Lake Superior is a real playground for boating enthusiasts! Often boaters like to seek shelter in our little bay anchoring for the night. This was the case one beautiful summer evening with a young couple and their new boat. Not being experienced boaters they didn’t realize that all though our bay is sheltered from the dangers of the open lake it has a very soft clay bottom, therefore making a secure anchorage difficult especially for inexperienced boaters. The next morning the wind picked up and their boat began to drift dangerously close to shore. We watched from a distance wondering did they not realize they were drifting? Where they having engine trouble? Perhaps they were still sleeping? If they continued to drift with the current and wind much longer they faced the danger of getting to close to shore and getting stuck on the bottom, a real problem for any boater. Our neighbour decided he couldn’t sit back and watch any longer so he jumped in his boat to warn them of their danger. It turns out they were just sitting on the deck enjoying a cup of coffee totally unaware of the danger, you see the wind was only slight hardly noticeable, and they were sure they were anchored securely and the drifting was so slow they were completing unaware they were even moving.
As Christians we face this very danger in our relationship with God, the danger of drifting!! You see the drift of our lives away from God can be just as subtle and just as dangerous. God’s word specifically warns us that we must take care so that we do not spiritually drift away from him.
Hebrews 2:1 clearly states: “Therefore we must give more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.” Earnest is a very strong word it means more exceedingly or much more frequently. This is a strong warning to pay attention more intensely to what God’s word is saying to us, so we do not drift. And while our drifting may be purely unintentional one of the most deceiving things about “drifting away” is the false notion that “it can never happen to me.”
1 Corinthians 10:12 says “whoever thinks he is standing firm had better be careful that he does not fall.”
I’m sure some of you can name someone they don’t see at church anymore someone you thought would never drift away you might say this about them: They use to come to church every week, attend every bible study offered, they were on parish council, they love to teach Sunday School, maybe they were an active member of the ACW or Mothers’ Union, perhaps they even grew up here at St. Thomas and now you might say I’m not sure when I last saw them, I’m not sure what happened to them where did they go?
Drifting does not happen overnight, we begin to drift slowly one bad choice at a time. As Christians Jesus Christ and his word is our anchor and we can easily drift when:
We become lazy and careless in our spiritual exercises, when we stop reading the Bible, attending church regularly and give up daily prayer, put simply we become complacent.
Or when life gets too busy, and our relationship with God slips to the bottom of our priority list. Someone once said if you are too busy for a relationship with God you are too busy.
We are in danger of drifting when the influences of the “world” -- unbelievers, co-workers, friends, family and social media wear us down, temptation can be so powerful!
Or when we worship what we have instead of who gave it to us.
Or when we disconnect ourselves from the body of Christ, our fellow Christians, and the will of God.
We may drift when our life circumstances changes, like our children grow up and were not taking them to Sunday School anymore or Something sad or tragic happens in our life and our faith slips away and we become bitter even blaming God.
Or we drift when we lose our passion for the Gospel.
Several years ago my 16 year old daughter asked me to take her to a CFO camp in Paynesville MN. Of all places! CFO is a non denominational organization that runs Christian camps and retreats for families of all ages. And in case you’re wondering yes it did involve a boy.
This is where we met Bob an ex motorcycle gang member, who with great enthusiasm told us his story! See Bob was living a destructive life style until he was in a very serious motorcycle accident leaving him in body cast and unable to care for him self. With no true friends and having alienated his family he was at the very mercy of the Sisters in the Catholic rehabilitation hospital. In the beginning he was an angry man and difficult to deal with and downright cruel to the sisters. But he was eventually softened by the unconditional love and kindness the sisters showed him. And after many months of physical and emotional healing he was a changed man a change that could only happen
With God. He left that hospital determined to share his story and make the same difference in someone’s life that the sisters had made in his and He did so much more than just that, he gave his live to sharing the Gospel to the hopeless, the very people he once was gang members and criminals. And twenty five years later he was still telling his story. This is a great story but the part of this story that sticks out in my mind the most is the way he told his story with such emotion and passion. Even my daughter said to me “mom Bob talks and acts like he just became a Christian yesterday.” You could tell he had a heart on fire for God and the Gospel.
You may wonder why I would tell you this story when I’m talking about spiritual drifting, its quite obvious Bob had not drifted, in fact quite the opposite Bob was running towards God. Well one of the biggest reasons “spiritual drifting” is so dangerous is that it is so easy It requires no effort or energy, all one has to do to start drifting is simply relax and stop putting forth any kind of effort. A nervous passenger aboard a cruise ship once asked the captain of the ship are you ever afraid of what could happen in a bad storm, the captain answered not as long as our engines are running and were moving forward this ship can handle almost any storm. But if the engines do stop running then we are adrift and at the mercy of the waves and wind then we would be in big trouble. Spiritual Drifting begins when our anchor gives way and our engines are not running Spiritual Drifting begins when our anchor gives way and our engines are not running. We as Christians are called to work hard, to be zealously on fire for our savoir serving him with our whole heart to the best of our ability and seeking him more and more everyday. Keeping that fire going is one of the keys to staying on coarse and not drifting. Bob’s Story could have been so different, when he left the comfort of the hospital and shelter the sisters provided, he could have easily drifted back into his former life style but he didn’t and I’m sure it was not easy, see Bob had very little education, no money, nowhere to live, no family or friends But he did have God, He believed in and embraced the plan God had for his life and he trusted God for everything. Now the good news is when we do drift God always welcomes us back with wide open arms.
We are his children and he loves us. I’m sure you’re familiar with the parable of the prodigal son in Luke which emphasizes just how important each one of us is to our heavenly father. The Parable tells of two sons the younger son asks his father for his portion of the family estate. Once he receives it his son leaves on a long journey and begins to waste his fortune on wild living and carelessness. Eventually the money and fun runs out, so destitute and hungry he comes to his senses, returns to his father and begs for forgiveness. The father who has been watching and waiting for his son to return welcomes him back with open arms, overjoyed with the return of his lost son he immediately prepares a feast to celebrate. The picture of this father so freely forgiving, and so happy to take have his son back, is a picture of God’s amazing grace. No matter how many times we may drift he would take us back in a heartbeat.
I think it is truly fearful to consider the dangers of drifting and all that can happen to us from simply floating along and not pursuing God and his truth passionately, we could easily become blind to, and even comfortable with sin, and we would likely begin to adopt worldly attitudes and behaviours, growing more selfish, ungrateful and unconcerned about the needs of others. So if we are drifting how do get back on course and if we are not drifting how do we stay on course?
Writing this has not been easy for me, this subject is close to my heart and I want you to know I don’t stand up here pretending to have all the answers, I humbly admit that I have struggled with my own drifting. What has helped me to get back on track when I’ve drifted is taking the time to stop for a moment and examine my heart, to reflect on my relationship with God asking myself should I or could I do more? Our lives are so full of things that take time, hard work, discipline and sacrifices like our jobs, family, exercise, sports and relationships, well staying spiritually on course are no different!!
If drifting is the result of doing nothing, then we need to do something!!
Let’s Start by putting God at the top of our “to do list” by Reading our Bible even when you don’t feel like it, praying even when we don’t know what to say, commit to attending church regularly and join a bible study no matter how busy we are, re connect with our Christians friends, Christian fellowship is so important, we need to encourage each other, lift each up in prayer and hold each other accountable. I know when I have drifted it is the strong connection to the people at St. Thomas that has helped me get back on track.
Jesus followers were called disciples not by accident the word “disciple” is the root of discipline as Christ’s followers we need to be disciplined disciples. When we practice discipline I can only imagine how God might use us:
In the 1880’s a young man who was an earnest Christian wrote on a scrap piece of paper the following resolutions: “I do promise God that I will rise early every morning to have a few minutes-not less than five – in private prayer. I will endeavor to conduct myself as a humble, meek and zealous follower of Jesus, and by serious witness and warning I will try to lead others to think of the needs of their immortal souls. I hereby vow to read no less than four chapters in God’s word every day. I will cultivate a spirit of self-denial and will yield myself a prisoner of love to the Redeemer of the world.” That young man was William Booth, who later led thousands to Christ and founded the Salvation Army.
If you don’t feel as close to God as you once did, ask yourself, who has drifted, God or me? And then commit yourself to doing something, to reverse the drifting.
The Bible says “draw close to God, and He will draw close to you”
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.