Two young men were fishing one day near their hometown. Being so focused on their goal of catching fish, they didn’t realize their boat had drifted so close to the dam’s rushing water until they were too close to turn back.
Caught by the current, their boat was swept over the dam into the crashing water below where the forceful flow of water pulled the young men under. They never came to the surface. It took days of searching before they found one body, and days later the other was located.
Though the dangers of drifting away physically can be all too serious, drifting is not limited to the physical realm. In Hebrews 2:1, we’re given a warning by the author against drifting.
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”
It’s a sad fact that many Christians are presently drifting toward spiritual destruction. Why don’t you ask yourself a question right now. Say to yourself, “Self, are you drifting?” Now let me ask you a question. Would you know it if you were?
One thing I’ve learned about drifting is that it requires no effort on our part. All we have to do is stop rowing the boat, and we begin to silently wash away in the current. With Christians, it’s the same, which is why Paul (assuming he wrote the letter to the Hebrew church) stated that we, “must give the more earnest heed…”
Another thing about drifting is that it’s an unconscious process. It’s possible to drift away and be completely unaware that it’s happening. Undercurrents are often undetectable beneath the water’s surface. In a plane, the wind or forces of gravity move the plane without you even realizing it. Similarly, many Christians and even whole churches have slowly drifted away unawares only to wake up one day and find themselves so far away from where they intended to be.
Have you ever considered that drifting never happens up stream, or against the tide? When we just “let go”, it is physically impossible to move contrary to the natural forces. If we are to be faithful to God, we have to be careful never to stop rowing. 2 Peter 1:5 instructs us to continue “adding to your faith”. 3:18 tells us to “grow in grace”, implying that we should not get into the “drifting” pattern.
The moment we stop growing, we begin a backwards, or downstream descent. Jet pilots will tell you that the faster the speed, the more dangerous and difficult it is to control. With that in mind, consider that speeds increase as the water moves downstream. When we hear the waterfall’s thunderous crashing, it’s altogether too late. When we lose sight of land, it’s more difficult to discern that we’re drifting. And as we move farther and farther away from God, the less we care about what we do and where we’re going.
Just as a ship that is out of control on the open waters, a drifting Christian becomes a danger to the other vessels around it. Many are “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” when Christians begin to drift. And consider this… everything that drifts must eventually come to a stop. Unfortunately, that halting motion is most often crashing upon the rocks, or over the falls.
Hebrews 2:2-3 says that, “every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;” Neglecting our purchased salvation will always end in calamity.
So, how will you know if you’re beginning to drift? Here are a few signs to look out for:
- The desire to study God’s word begins to fade
- Prayer time is replaced with other pursuits
- You avoid spending time with God’s people
- Church attendance is no longer of primary importance
- Church fellowship is replaced with worldly fellowship
- The desire to share the Gospel with other people fades
- You begin finding fault in others
But beside avoiding these telltale signs, there is something more that you can do to safeguard against drifting.
Spiritually speaking, this involves being diligent in your walk with God. Actively develop the fruit and gifts of the Spirit.
Watch out for undercurrents.
Be on guard against things that will distract you in your walk, like temptations, bitterness, etc.
Go against the tide.
There are many tides that intend to sweep us away, like popularity, peer pressure, praise of others, skepticism, false doctrines, liberalism, apathy and complacency.
It’s difficult to impossible to move an anchored vessel. We should be rooted and grounded in Christ (Co 2:6-7), anchored in the truth (Eph 4:14-15), with an unshakable hope (Heb 6:18-19).
The danger of drifting is very real, and we should do all we can to avoid it. Many great Christians that we know have fallen away from God… what makes us think it could never happen to us?
Are there signs of drifting in your life?
1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;
3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; Hebrews 2:1-3