The Danger of Drifting

At some point, many Christians begin slowly drifting away from the spiritual disciplines that are the anchors of their faith. Bible reading becomes sporadic or nonexistent, prayer becomes more like a lifeline than a daily conversation, and even church attendance goes by the wayside.

These are danger signals that signify more than laziness or busyness; they are indications that they are wandering down a path away from Christ. Once some distance is between the person and any one of those disciplines, it becomes easier to rationalize moving away from the others.

Result of a Series of Small Decisions

Drifting isn’t accidental; it is an act of the will. It is comprised of many small decisions that when rationalized and justified, seem perfectly reasonable. The drifter believes their lies and is led astray by the heart (Jer. 17:9). They’d like to believe it just “happened,” but this is untrue. A decision was made to not read the Word despite the many promptings of the Holy Spirit. The person determined to stay up late on Saturday night, knowing it would be difficult to get up to go to church on Sunday. Rather than responding to the promptings to spend time in prayer, they turned on the television or music first thing in the morning.

When a person drifts, they soon realize they are living in the world and like the world. Former habits sneak their way back into everyday life; cursing, lying, pornography, indulging in too much alcohol, or perhaps a full-blown relapse into drug or alcohol abuse. Justification is also easier. They tell themselves lies about their behavior and its cause. “Those church people weren’t friendly anyway.” “I don’t to go to need church; I can watch it online.” “There’s nothing wrong with a little fun; I work hard, and I deserve it.”

A boat drifts because it has come loose from its moorings, the anchor has let go or because the current is too strong to hold it in place. Spiritual disciplines are security lines that keep a person from moving away from safety and security in their faith. I can think of a significant number of people who have been swept far downstream in sin because of drifting. They come to us for help; broken and battered, their spiritual gyroscopes completely out of whack. Often, they are stunned by the things they have done or by what happened to them during that time.

Spiritual drifting allows a person to get involved in things they would otherwise shun. Bored homemakers begin online relationships and become emotionally unfaithful to their husbands. Single women date unsaved men or compromise their purity. A repentant former substance abuser thinks they can dabble in that form of idolatry again on a moderate basis. The truth is, if you scoop fire into your lap, you will get burned (See Proverbs 6:27).

What are Spiritual Disciplines?

Spiritual disciplines are important aspects of the Christian life. We are not meant to sail these stormy waters of life alone; we were created for community. The author of Hebrews knew this for he said, “[do not] forsake our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25 NASB) Jesus knew the importance of prayer. He had daily communication with the Father, and Jesus was the God-Man! I found no less than 27 incidents of Jesus praying to God. God commands prayer, and a Christian who refuses to pray is in serious rebellion toward Him.

Finally, spending time reading the Scriptures is how we hear from God, we grow, and we change. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (NIV). Isn’t it interesting that teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness will all keep us from spiritually drifting? God’s Word will keep us focused on the straight and narrow and save us from many disasters when we apply it to our lives.

If it has been too long since you participated in prayer or church, or if your Bible has grown dusty from lack of use; I urge you to repent and return to your first love. Examine your life for the consequences of drifting and make your way back to the safe harbor of God’s love and rest.