My hometown of Duluth, Minnesota is beautiful. Yeah I might be a bit biased, but I think it has some qualities that make it a lovely place. Seated on the shores of Lake Superior, it’s not your typical Midwest-looking town. For starters, it’s built on a hill and has amazing views as you climb to the top. It’s also a shipping community with great iron ore and grain ships passing through on a regular basis. Beyond that, the big lake provides sailboating, beach access, and a whole host of opportunities to sight-see and explore. I highly recommend a visit if you’re looking for a new place to travel to that isn’t too hard on the pocketbook. But go in the summer; winters can be brutally cold!
As I grew up in Duluth, I would marvel at the great ships that made their way in and out of the docks. Their size and immensity still amaze me to this day as I get back to visit family and bring my kids down to see the Aerial Lift Bridge (shown in the picture accompanying this post). One thing that all ships have in common is their need for an anchor. No matter how large or small a vessel is, it cannot stay put in one place unless it has something holding it secure.
The anchor is to the ship what God’s word, prayer, and Christian community are to the follower of Christ. Our faith is built on things that provide a firm foundation and in this we, have hope: This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast Hebrews 6:19. Just as the ship without the anchor is lost and adrift at sea, we without the hope of Christ are adrift and far from Him.
Today’s entry assumes we know all this; that it takes grounding and an anchor to stay firm in our faith. But the idea I’d like to expound upon is how easily we can drift and discuss some of those dangers which cause us to fall away from our first love in Christ. Our natural tendency and our bend is to always go our own way and get off-course. One of my favorite hymns declares this so well:
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love (Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing)
So what are some of the aspects and issues surrounding the concept of “drift”? Here are some points I personally must consider as I examine the things that cause me to slip away from my nearness to God:
1. Compromise sets us up for drift
One definition of the word compromise is “to accept standards that are lower than desirable.” The Apostle Paul understood the importance of the standard; that what we are after is a high calling: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 I envision Paul as a hard-charging, take-no-excuses kind of a guy. And I’d imagine he rubbed quite a few people the wrong way. But I think that’s totally ok because he had a standard which was based upon his call. Anything less would be unworthy of the call and a disservice to His Lord and Savior. Compromise (as defined above) was not a word in his vocabulary. It should not be in ours either.
2. Good is the enemy of great
You’ve probably heard this one before. Maybe you’ve even seen it on an internet meme or a bumper sticker. But it’s true and again it gets back to the concept of standards. If the anchor of our lives is a standard we uphold and it is the highest, it is the greatest, the most ultimate…why would we settle for less or just “good”? Good can be something that drifts us away from God because He has something amazing for our lives but we just want to settle. Drift can set in because we believe we really aren’t meant for more; what we have is enough and the opportunity to dream big and go deep is for someone else. Drift happens in those moments when we decide not to press-in for more but stay safe and comfortable (see these two posts for more information: What Are You Afraid Of? and Taking The Land).
3. Drift doesn’t happen overnight but it’s effects can be long-term
When the boat doesn’t put down it’s anchor, it doesn’t immediately find itself hundreds of yards from shore. But slowly over minutes and hours, the wind and the waves can bring the boat far off-course. The same thing applies to us as Christians. We may avoid reading our Bible a day or two here. Then we miss for a week or two; then even a month goes by. Maybe we stop going to church and we stop hanging out with other Christians. Before we know it, the anchor of our lives and the hope we’ve been clinging to isn’t so strong. We set ourselves up for all kinds of temptation and potential devastation because we have drifted so far. When our hearts and minds aren’t continually being reminded about our need for the Lord, we drift into complacency. This is a scary place for any of us as Christians because of how weak and vulnerable we become. Any life choices we make can have effects that linger for years. If you are in this place, it only takes one prayer and one step back in the right direction. And if you are in this place, please seek out Christian community today!
If I can go back to Paul for one closing thought from Philippians 3, it would be to say that drift ultimately is avoided by pursuing Christ at the expense of other things:
More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. Philippians 3:8,9
To avoid drift and its consequences, we must daily set apart Christ as Lord in our minds. By making this choice, it means avoiding other things. Very practically speaking, it could mean changing your viewing habits (movies and TV), lessening your internet and social media browsing, or even avoiding some of the people you used to hang out with or places you used to go. If any of those areas are causing drift and causing the anchor not to be strong, you must make the change. This is what Paul is speaking of in this passage…everything that he considers “to be loss.” Make the change. Avoid the drift. It’s always worth it.
In what ways can I pray for you and encourage you today? This issue is too big to face on our own; we need the community of others and their prayers and support to walk this journey.
I’d love to connect! firstname.lastname@example.org