Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Drifting can happen in music and in life.

I had a gifted friend in our vocal music class in high school who would begin singing right on pitch but would invariably drift off key. Part of her problem might have been that she was not listening to herself or her hearing might have been impaired. Drifting in our spiritual lives can happen in any season of life, but in our latter season it seems to become more common.

Scripture mentions drifting. “...We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1).

Drifting in the natural world implies being carried along by wind or current. We can visualize it as the movement of a boat when loosened from an anchor. Quietly and unnoticed, it will drift downstream floating aimlessly. 

Spiritually, drifting is what we used to call “backsliding” in the evangelical world. A person once fervent, strong, and bold in his beliefs and witness unobtrusively seems to have become lukewarm and withdrawn. He begins to deviate from God's purpose which formerly impelled him towards God's intended goal. He has slipped away from God Who has been his Anchor and soon finds himself at a distance downstream.

Scripture uses other terms related to drifting: “falling away, being carried away, wandering, tossed here and there by waves, being led away, going astray, carried about by every wind of doctrine, driven and tossed.” In most cases those words are directed to believers, to Christians. Since God has created us with free will, we can decide to change course or unless we are careful, drift off course. If we stop pressing on spiritually, drift is inevitable because of the drag of the current of materialism and the secular culture.

As I advance in my latter years it is easy to let my guard down, to drift morally, and grow slack in my full obedience to the Lord. It is possible to disgrace Him at the end of my life. By such a drift I could undo all the good and positive reputation and witness for God of my earlier years. In the book of Revelation Jesus is recorded as calling such a drift "losing your first love" and His command is to remember from where you have fallen and repent. Jesus declared He would rather we be cold or hot than lukewarm, tepid, or halfhearted.
In the context of our mature years, what could possibly cause us to become spiritual driftwood washed up, as it were, on the shores of life after we have been faithfully fervent and effective in our Christian lives? Are any of us immune to such a possibility? The latter season of our lives carries its own special temptations and influences. We may have become physically tired, exhausted, weak and weary with the length of our journey. Our knees buckle and our arms hang limp both physically and spiritually. The pressure of circumstances, the loss of beloved relationships, loneliness, being forced to downsize our living situations—these and many other factors may contribute to discouragement and depression which leads to spiritual drifting. 

What is the remedy for drifting? Aside from any adverse circumstances, I can drift spiritually when I am not careful to maintain my connection with my Anchor, God, and with others in the community of faith. The New Testament letters are full of admonitions to “hold fast” and to “stand firm.” The term is repeated again and again. I need to continually “draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Such an intimate relationship keeps the fires of “first love” burning.

The instruction of Hebrews 2:1 is all the more pertinent in my older years. I must “pay much closer attention” even than I did in my younger and mid-years. As a long time follower of the Lord for decades and scores of years I dare not regard God's Truth as “same old-same old” that I have heard so many times before. Stale listening is a particular temptation. Perhaps I need new spiritual “hearing aids.” The Holy Spirit has fresh, new ways of speaking God's ancient truths to me in my advanced years, if I remain eager to hear them. 

God wants me to keep singing enthusiastically while I am at the summit of my life journey and not drift off key. This life is a dress rehearsal for my Life To Come. I want to sing my way Home on perfect pitch.

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