2000-04-05 - Drifting Away
Hebrews 2:1 (NIV) We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.
Okay folks, it's confession time again. This may surprise some of you, but over the last six weeks or so I have drifted away from my relationship with God. Early on in my Christian life, I like many, had huge swings between tremendous closeness and far distance from God. After twenty-five years of trying to "walk the talk," I have enjoyed having fewer dramatic swings. The lows were higher than the last low, and the highs were higher than the previous high.
So what happened during the past six weeks? And how have I started my recovery back to a solid personal relationship with God? Our relationship with Christ takes work, just as all our relationships do. We work at our marriages and friendships. We cannot build a new friendship, or maintain an old one, if we simply ignore the responsibilities that come with the territory. Successful marriages and friendships are built on trust, communication, unconditional love, time and other fundamental foundations.
Ignore one or more of these building blocks, and watch the relationship slowly erode away. Often times in marriages, our lives go something like this: Get married, buy a house, climb the proverbial ladder of success, do volunteer work, have a kid or two, watch kids grow up, and then watch kids leave home. One day, you look across the breakfast table and think, "Who is that person?" Over the years, you drift apart, and it never seems to me to be intentional. No one walks down the church aisle to get married thinking, "boy I can't wait until we drift apart and get divorced--" just like I never thought, "well starting today, I am going to drift away from God." So, what happened six weeks ago? The evil one's most effective tool to make me ineffective as a Christian is busyness. And doggone it, I know that, but I did it again. I feel like Paul when he said, "I do the things I know I should not do, and I don't do the things that I know I should do." As I trace back my steps, I hope you can learn from my failures. Three new business ventures were posed to me within a week's time. And in my sinful carnal self, I thought that I could handle at least one more project, one more deal, and one more responsibility. My quiet time with God at night was shoved aside first. I took that time to pour myself into learning all I could about these ventures. I was reading every article and book I could find on the subjects. Of course, that cut into my Bible reading, and that cut into prayer time. Then slowly, I became filled with some spiritual pride. My pride was telling me that I really did not need to go to that Bible Study this week or to church service on the weekend. Do not miss the point: I never intended to drift away; it was a gradual drift. I love floating on rafts with my kids at the beach. Sometimes we look up, and we have floated blocks away from where we entered the water.
The current just slowly moved us, and we never knew we were drifting. So what brought me back? The Holy Spirit inside of me kept nudging me back. I felt empty, without focus and purpose. Christian friends around me were asking me pointed questions: "Been reading your Bible everyday for you, and not just reading to write a devotional?" "When are you coming back to church?" "Do you still go to our church?" I am sure the small group of close people around me was prompted by the Holy Spirit to prod me back. Slowly I began to make time to pray and read God's word every day. I guess we all wander away from God, from time to time. Maybe we just step out a short distance; maybe we go far away. The one thing I do know is that He is always waiting for us to come back. My favorite passage on this leaving and coming back is Luke 15:17-20 (NIV): "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20 So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
It sure is nice to be back home.
Dear Father, Thank You for being a patient and loving Father. Thank You for loving us unconditionally. Forgive us when we fail to pay careful attention to our daily actions. Remind us constantly that our walk is a moment-by-moment walk, and our relationship with You is a minute-by-minute relationship that grows deeper and more meaningful when we walk in Your ways. In Jesus' name. Amen.
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