How can we test ourselves for drifting away from being in step with the Spirit? What are the consequences of drifting for ourselves and others? What steps might be taken to overcome drifting?
Anyone who has experienced joy, peace and confidence in trusting Jesus Christ will not easily make a conscious decision to pull back or turn aside from following Him to pursue other interests. Rather, they don’t realise that, to follow Jesus, we must set our faces into the wind, our feet pointed against the current; any other stance will sweep us away from the narrow path Jesus has called us to. That’s the real danger with drifting: You need do nothing to fall into it.
How can we test ourselves for this drifting away from being in step with the Spirit? What are the consequences of drifting for ourselves and others? What steps might be taken to overcome drifting?
Evidence of drifting
- You never find time to read, let alone study, God’s Word, which is the source of our guidance and wisdom. Drifting from His teachings by failing to apply them personally diminishes spiritual direction and purpose. If you have usually been active in church activities — Bible studies, prayer meetings, mission trips, small groups, local outreach and ministry — but have stopped doing so, you may be drifting away from God.
- You avoid fellowship with other believers beyond occasional Sunday mornings. You’re not a cheerful giver of respect, money or time. Fellowship with like-minded believers is essential, as loving and serving others is part of our faith, but drifting from Christ’s teachings may lead to behaviour that strains or harms relationships with fellow believers. The isolation stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic made it too easy to avoid fellow believers and support God’s work. Jesus tells us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:33-34, NIV). What restrains you today?
- You have lost sensitivity toward your personal and persistent sins, as well as the sins of the world around you. If you have already neglected reading your Bible and gathering together with church members, drifting from biblical values may lead to moral decline and a lack of personal accountability. Call sin what you want, but God has better things in store when you re-commit yourself to His grace and power. Then, He can shape you to address the real needs of the world.
- Heartfelt, persevering prayer — communication with our Father — is but a fond memory. Experiencing doubt, feeling locked in repetitive prayers and a lack of interest in spiritual things are all signs of drifting away from God. Drifting weakens our faith, leading to a separation from our Heavenly Father. Talk to Him and be sure to be listening.
Let the healing begin
“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” (Hebrews 2:1, NIV).
- Face reality: Confess that you have drifted, but that must change now — whatever it takes. The first step in the healing process is admitting and recognising that you, unintentionally, have drifted from God. Do a spiritual audit to determine what caused the drift, first by yourself and perhaps then with a trusted advisor.
- Find a recovery coach who will keep you accountable and encourage you to keep making progress. Surrounding yourself with a supportive community of believers can help you stay accountable and provide encouragement as you work to heal your relationship with God and His people.
- Spiritual decay is a slow process, and thus, restoring spiritual health also takes time. Deal with one issue at a time. To reconnect with God involves actively seeking a relationship with Him through prayer, reading the Bible, participating in church life and seeking help from mentors. Seek forgiveness with a sincere heart and make amends where necessary.
- We are our brother’s keeper in that, having dealt with drifting ourselves, we can detect it in others and, hopefully, walk with them in recovery. Having experienced true forgiveness and restoration, we can shift our focus from self-centredness to helping others who have drifted.
It is important to remember that spiritual recovery is a process that requires patience and persistence, trusting that God’s love and grace are available to all who seek it.
Lawrence Tong, from Singapore, is OM’s International Director, cultivating the vision and providing guidance to the Global Leadership Team. He studied Communications and has a master’s degree in Business Administration. He loves seeing individuals living abundantly for God. He started serving with OM in 1978 when he joined Doulos and met his wife, Susan. He spent five years each on OM’s ships, Logos, Logos II and Doulos: worked in the Ship’s head office in Mosbach and served as the director for OM in China and Taiwan. His excitement to see vibrant communities of Jesus followers within walking distance of everyone on earth is what propels him into motion daily.