We see it all around us, in headline news stories, or from the lives of those we know and maybe once trusted. And even so often, in our very own lives.
Sometimes it happens before we realize what’s occurred. It’s unintentional. We don’t plan it. Lulled by the slow pull away, swayed by other things we start deeming more important, we wake up one day and realize things seem different. We find ourselves in a place we’d never intended to go.
Sometimes out of busyness.
Sometimes out of hurt.
Sometimes because things are bad.
Sometimes because things are good.
Sometimes because we’re overwhelmed.
Sometimes because it’s hard to forgive and move forward.
And often because we begin to stumble. Temptation is fierce. The enemy waits for one wrong move. Sin crouches, ready to devour, as we head down a slippery slope. We can’t find a foothold, and begin to lose our way.
By definition, to drift means “a continuous slow movement from one place to another.”
It doesn’t happen quickly. It often takes us unaware. It’s simply the natural process that occurs, when we lose our bearings, and stop moving in the right direction.
And one thing is sure, it rarely happens because we intend for it too.
This summer at the beach, we rode the waves for long hours. There was a time of calm on the water as we talked and floated, immersed in the moment, loving life, just being together. But before long, I noticed we had drifted farther out than intended and could no longer touch the bottom. We felt the strong pull of the waves going outward. Though I tried my best to keep calm in front of our kids, I was suddenly aware that we were very far from where we wanted to be. There was a strong tug under the waters that sought hard to draw us farther, deeper.
We had to fight to gain control.
We started paddling, hard, kicking back towards shore, on those boards that had drifted us outward. Waves finally came, we rode them back in. Right to safety.
And this very thing, so similar to life…
Maybe we’re not looking. No longer aware. Enjoying the moments. Temptation pulls us in the wrong direction. The riptide of sin is real and dark. It can take us under before we even know what’s happened. We suddenly realize we’re stuck, we look and notice how far we’ve gone, and the price of what it’s cost us.
This quote says it well: “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
Most of us don’t ever set out to plunge deep into a pit of sin, turning away from what we know is right and true. What takes us there are the little steps all along that pathway. The slow drift in the wrong direction.
It can happen to any of us, no one is immune. And when we drift away from God, it’ll have a ripple effect on all other relationships we hold dear in this life, because He is the reason we’re able to love well. Without Him, everything else gets dulled.
There’s danger in living within the drift. We rarely, if ever, will drift towards good things. Leaving the safety and covering of God’s protection takes us dangerous places, often bringing great heartache and struggle that’s impossible to escape.
5 Dangers of Drifting:
– We begin to pull away from godly influences. Marriages suffer. Trust gets broken. We lose our heart for others. We fall away from close fellowship with other believers. We neglect accountability and connection with those who would encourage our walk in Christ. Matthew 22:37-40
– We stop praying. We’re too busy. We’re weary. Or simply overwhelmed. We shoot a few prayers up His way, like, “Lord, bless our day,” but we’re unaffected by the lack of closeness we have with our Creator. Constantly wired to electronic devices, we’re more in tune to what others are saying and doing, the constant media chatter, than we are to what is on God’s heart for the day. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
– We lose focus, or desire, for His Words. We’re no longer reading or hearing it. We’re distracted by all that calls our name through the day. To-do lists beckon us from the moment we wake up, crazy schedules leave no room for moments with Him. Or maybe we find ourselves just disconnected completely. Stone cold, distant, withdrawn, His words of life and truth fall on deaf ears and hardened hearts. Matthew13:14-15
– We lose our heart for worship. We stop going to church and fill our minds with excuses of why we can’t. Or why it’s not that important. Or maybe we still go so we can check the church box. We sing words, hear words, then we go home. Yet not really singing and not really hearing. Unaffected. Distant. All the while, our hearts feel a million miles away. Hebrews10:25
– The spiritual things that once concerned us, no longer concern us. We’re more easily influenced by the opinions of the world instead of the truth of God’s Word. Compassion for people wanes. His Spirit within us is stifled. Our heart for God is dulled. The pull towards sin increases. We begin to see life through selfish motives, blurred by pride, and our quest to live happy, on our terms. We find ourselves twisting truth to meet our own needs. We become numb to the danger that surrounds us, often until it’s too late to avoid great consequences that follow our choices. 1 John 2:16, 2 Timothy 4:4
But we don’t have to live that way, we can choose differently…
And that’s not always easy. Becuase often, it’s easier to just go with the flow. It takes effort, hard work, not to drift away. Knowing “of” truth isn’t the same as immersing ourselves “in” truth. One will keep us aware and close to our Safety, the other may allow us to drift slowly the wrong direction.
4 Ways to Stop:
“We must pay more careful attention (to devote thought and effort to, as if to bring a ship to land), therefore, to what we have heard (which was the Word of God, Jesus Christ), so that we do not drift away (to let slip away, to be carried away).” Heb. 2:1
1. Pay careful attention, stay aware and alert.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Pet. 5:8
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38
2. Be strong in the Lord, put on the armor of God.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Eph. 6:10-18
3. Listen to, meditate on, His words that are Truth.
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.” Ps. 1:1-2
4. Choose to stay close, to remain anchored in Him.
“Choose this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Josh. 24:15
“We have this hope as the anchor for the soul, firm and secure…” Heb. 6:19
Sometimes we get a wake-up call. We’re stirred out of the lull, suddenly realizing how far we’ve gone. We see where we’re headed. And we start paddling to safety.
If you find yourself there, He longs to pull you back, close to Himself. Don’t wait till tomorrow to set your heart in the right direction. Confess where you’re at, turn back to Him. It’s never too late, no matter where you find yourself now.
We have the power, through Christ, to choose wisely.
It’s there, we find safety under His protection, and live within His blessing.
Forgive us for drifting away from you, for allowing other things to become more important in our lives. Help us to live aware, to choose wisely, to stay close to you, and anchored in your Truth. Apart from you, we have no hope. Thank you for your great love and mercy, thank you that you wait for us, that you call us to yourself, and you strengthen us in our weakness. Thank you that you alone are our Refuge and Safety, and you fill us with hope. We come to you today, choosing to walk in your Presence and Light.
In Jesus’ Name,