Drifting

The easiest thing in the world to do is to drift. It requires no effort whatsoever. All one has to do is do nothing. We need to remember that a sick or dead fish can drift with the current, but it takes a live, healthy fish to swim upstream.

One of the most marked characteristics of the present day is the universal tendency to drift. Many who were formerly earnest, active Christians have grown careless and indifferent. Others who are drifting may not have drifted that far as yet, but they are on their way. There are a number of reasons why Christians drift, but the underlying cause is that the warmth of the first love for Christ has been lost.

And the drift is not noticed by the one who is drifting, until he has drifted a long way. “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” (Heb. 2:1). It behooves us to watch vigilantly against beginning to drift. The time to stop drifting is before you start.

There is an evil fascination about drifting. Slackening up on going to church or prayer meeting, praying, and reading God’s Word gives a false sense of freedom. It is really slavery to Satan.

Irregularity is the great cause and the certain indication of drifting. When one begins to be absent from church occasionally, omits prayer, fails to feed regularly on God’s Word, not because of emergencies but because of lack of desire, he may know, beyond a doubt, that he has started on the downgrade. Generally it is not very long before these vital matters are neglected altogether, and the drifter finally comes to the place where his condition gives him no concern. For this reason God’s Word sounds the alarm and warns us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom of some is.

Ungodly companions cause many to begin to drift. That does not mean that such companions are “bad” people, as is commonly reckoned. They may be good in many respects, but they leave God out and are therefore ungodly. We should choose for our close friends only those who can help us Godward. A good apple never made bad apples good, but bad apples quickly spoil a good one.

Repeated violations of one’s conscience are sure to result in a life of drifting. By constantly ignoring the voice of conscience, it can be silenced; but we do so at our own peril.

Unconfessed and unforsaken sin is another great cause of people beginning to drift. Sin is any disobedience whatever to the known will of God. If a Christian fails to war a good warfare by not confessing to God and forsaking every known sin, however “small,” he is bound to drift. Sin in the life is like a splinter in the finger. It will fester and fester until removed. There can be no pleasure in God’s Word, no joy in prayer, no real desire to go to God’s house, and no winning of others to Christ while sin is allowed to lurk in the life.

Resentment rankling in the heart, perhaps against a fellow Christian because of a real or fancied injury, is a sin that must be put away, or the drift is inevitable. We must forgive sincerely if we desire to be forgiven.

Trying to live on past blessing is a mistake that many make. We might as well face the fact that it can’t be done. The children of Israel had to gather the manna daily. What they attempted to store became wormy, and a “wormy” experience will start the drift. We must keep up to date in our experience with God.

Inactivity is certain to lead to drifting. Activity is indispensable to the maintenance of a healthy life, spiritual as well as physical. Some foolishly think that they have served long enough, but it is disastrous to get tired in Christian service. Spiritual vacations generally prove fatal. If you are not busy, get busy; and if you are busy, keep busy for Christ, for His sake, for the sake of others, and for your own well-being.

Religious browsing is a dangerous practice that results in much drifting. It is wiser not to indulge, because nosing around into false cults and “-isms” generally ends in getting caught in one of these numerous traps of Satan. Stick to God’s Word and abhor all that is contrary to it. There are a thousand ways to hell but only one way to heaven—personal faith in the crucified and risen Son of God, who died for our sins and rose again for our justification.

Church hoppers are drifters. If you are not anchored in a church home, you will certainly drift. Every Christian should link himself up without delay with a local church that is true to the Word of God and help as well as be helped.

The love of money starts many on the toboggan. The feverish pursuit of money, which is so common today—the insatiable desire to get more and more—makes many willing to steal God’s Day in order that they may get more dollars. Others chase the dollar so hard during the week that they think they are too tired to go to church on God’s Day. That, too, is stealing God’s Day. And some yield to the temptation to use questionable means to get gain. Jesus said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Lk. 12:15).

The love of pleasure is closely associated with the love of money. The world is pleasure-mad. Even many professed Christians are indeed lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Keep in mind that any pleasure, or any amount of pleasure, that takes off the keen edge of your relish for spiritual things is harmful. To get out of doors on Sunday afternoons is beneficial to those who are in doors all week, but to take the whole day for pleasure or rest, or part of the day for wrong pleasure, is most destructive to one’s spiritual life. Let us not forget that man is vastly more than physical. Why not go on drifting? If you are drifting at all, you should stop at once for the sake of the Son of God, who died on the cross to save you. While drifting, your life not only fails to count for Him, but it counts positively against Him. For the sake of others you might influence for Christ but are now influencing against Him, you should stop drifting immediately. In a river, driftwood clogs the channel and wrecks vessels. If you drift, you will wreck other lives as well as your own. You dare not go on drifting for the sake of your own welfare. The result to a Christian who drifts is a wasted, fruitless life and an impoverished eternity. Eternity may be nearer than you think. You may now be nearing the rocks. Remember, the longer you drift, the farther you drift; and the longer you drift, the less inclined you are to get back; and the farther you drift, the harder it is to get back. It is impossible to recover wasted days and years, and we cannot escape their evil harvest.

Stop drifting. Christian, if you have been drifting at all, confess it to God. Stop it. Go forward in your Christian life. You must go forward or backward; you cannot stand still. Never allow a day to pass without feeding on God’s Word and prayer. Ask God to show you some definite work that you can do for Christ and then do it. Seek to win others to the Savior. Make it a constant practice. Let me urge you most emphatically to be regular at the means of grace and take time for your spiritual responsibilities.

— Written by Franklin G. Huling. Mr. Huling served on the faculty of the FEA's Fundamental Bible Institute from its inception in 1936 until his homegoing in 1946.