After a short stretch of swimming in the salty sea, I realized how swiftly one may drift away from the shore. I distinctly remember being yanked back at least fifty feet in less than five minutes while scouring for seashells underwater. Even when I stood still on the soggy sand, the slow tide seized my ankles like ropes dragging me backwards. This is because the waves that slam the sandy beaches rapidly retreat back to the abysmal ocean, sweeping you away with their aquatic claws. And unfortunately, many people are unaware of how far they’ve drifted until it is fatally too late.
Many times, we drift from God in the same way. God knows that we like to splash in the waters of carelessness and float away from Him (cf. Heb. 2:1). Slowly but surely, we sail away from the coast of closeness to God, until eventually we can no longer make out His distant form. The invitingly warm waters of temptation, the drowning waves of busyness, and the relaxing ocean of spiritual lethargy all drag us away from the Lord and down into a suffocating ocean of disobedience (cf. Matt. 26:41; 2 Thess. 3:11; Rev. 3:15-16). And tragically, some drift so far that they sink the ship of their faith beyond all hope of rescue:
“Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked” (1 Timothy 1:19, NLT).
If you are slowly drifting from the Lord, swim back to Him in repentance, get out of sin’s soothing sea, and don’t look back. Return to the God who beckons you from the shore of mercy. “Return to the LORD your God,” commanded Joel, “for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster” (Joel 2:13b). Wandering believer, you may be far from Him, but He is actually not far from you: “Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away?” (Jer. 23:23). Return to Him and He will return to you: “Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 1:3b; cf. James 4:8).
The Lord will raise you from the choking waters of iniquity when you cry out to Him for help (cf. Psalm 130:1-4). It is no wonder, then, that hymn-writer James Rowe (1865-1933) was inspired to pen the humility-producing words of Love Lifted Me which begins like this:
“I was sinking deep in sin,
Far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within,
Sinking to rise no more;
But the Master of the sea
Heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me–
Now safe am I.”
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).