Imagine yourself on a boat in a stream, rowing against the current. Ahead of you, the stream is calm and seemingly quiet. In agony, you pull the oars back to thrust the craft forward again and again until the calm waters are around you.
In this part of the stream, you feel a time of rest is awarded. So you draw your oars in and lean back for a moment. Confident of your progress and security, you have little worry. Here, you are comfortable while enjoying your success.
While you sleep, your boat drifts backward. The stream, though calm and quiet, is still moving. The subtle change of speed doesn’t disturb your peaceful nap: the roar of water crashing against rocks hundreds of feet below finally awakens you.
Alarmed and shocked, you draw out the oars and row twice as hard as you did before, but the current is at its strongest. You’re too close to the edge! Your efforts are no match for the current, as you begin to fall rapidly toward the rocks below.
Sadly, most Christians never comprehend this illustration. All believers are in the stream of the world, rowing against its current. The calm waters before the fall distract us from our need to keep rowing. Many of us find rest and begin to drift.
Hebrews 2:1 describes this by urging us to “pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Fighting the good fight of the faith is waging war against gospel negligence. Neglecting the gospel, even with indulging comforts, is how we drift from the faith. In Paul’s charge to continue forward at any cost, he reminds us that “some have made shipwreck of their faith” by “rejecting [the gospel]” (1 Tim. 1:19).
Here are three signs of spiritual drifting:
- A diminishing desire to study God’s principles. When you find yourself bored with the Bible or feeling like it’s not important, you are drifting from the gospel. God’s truth equips you to withstand the current of this world. Ask God to spark your interest by giving you insight, and then commit yourself to studying even when you feel like you cannot.
- A diminishing desire to fellowship with God’s people. When you discover you’re uninterested in gathering with the church for spiritual encouragement and personal accountability, you are drifting from the gospel. God’s community supports and upholds truth in the lives of His people. Ask God to help you personally engage the church with an open heart and find joy in fellowship. Gather with them even when you don’t feel like it.
- A diminishing desire to pray for God’s purposes. When you no longer pray or feel like prayer is a waste of time, you are drifting from the gospel. God’s purposes are accomplished through prayer and His people. Ask God to help you pray and get connected to Him. Set aside time for prayer and commit to it.
When these signs appear, it’s time to get the oars out and get back in the struggle against the current. “Fight the good fight of faith,” Paul says, and “take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Tim. 6:12).
Row, row, row your boat and keep at it.