Imagine sitting on a raft in the middle of the sea. The waves rise and fall, brushing up against the raft's splintered wood. Each move of the current carries you further and further from the shoreline. As time passes, you drift so far that land has become like a speck of dust in the distance. You feel alone and isolated. You notice schools of fish travel beneath you and long for company. But no person is near. All there is to provide companionship are the loved ones in your memory. Finally, you look at the horizon, awaiting rescue so that you can once again feel the comfort of relationship.
Drifting away from God is like drifting alone on the ocean. It happens subtly and over time. When suffering and hardships come, we may find ourselves doubting God's character. Little by little, we communicate with God less and miss church services more. As family and career obligations consume our schedules, we may see our faith as unnecessary. We experience this drifting for days and months. Then, before we know it, years have gone by, and our relationship with God becomes a distant memory. While we may distract ourselves with tasks and goals for this or that, we are, in fact, lost in life.
We are lost because we do not have the one thing we need most: intimacy with the Lord. God designed us to draw near to Him. But our sin demands that we run from His presence and reject His closeness. Apart from God, the waves churn; the sky is gray; the clouds look ominous. The storm of our rebellion overturns the raft. The dreams, desires, and plans we constructed our not as stable as we thought. Our raft breaks apart, and we succumb to the wild waters. Gasping for air, we face the futility of life alone and drown under the powers of evil. Our only future is grave.
But for those of us who place our faith in Christ, there is no need to fear. God does not forget us. He does not leave us to drift toward destruction. He sent the eternal Son, Jesus Christ, to rescue us. Jesus is the creator of the land and ocean, so He is more than able to conquer the chaotic sea of our sin. He approaches from in the distance. Do you see Him? He is the shadowy figure hovering over the water. Better yet, He is walking on it and walking toward you. He says to your heart, "Have courage! It is I. Don't be afraid" (Matthew 14:27). By His saving work, Jesus pulls you from the watery death and dries you with His robe of righteousness. With delight, He brings you to the Promised Land, that sacred place of which the biblical authors wrote. In the Promised Land, there is true stability and satisfaction, for it is truly the eternal presence of God. There, we who were lost gather to His throne. There, Jesus turns our feelings of loneliness into a hazy memory and restores our glorious fellowship with the Father.
Now, we are lost in grace. We can wander in God's presence. The presence of God is not bondage; it is an invitation to drift within something pleasant, like a feather or flower dancing in the wind. A relationship with the Lord is running through a foreign forest, being surprised at each turn. His nearness is the solid ground beneath your feet and the soft grass between your toes. His companionship is the feeling of wonder when walking under a rainbow. God wants you to experience this life and freedom through Jesus. Will you return from your worldly drifting and enter His presence?
What are some practical tools to utilize when we find ourselves drifting away from God? There are three things we can do. The first is to reflect on the gospel. Hebrews 2:1 states, "For this reason, we must pay attention all the more to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away." Meditating on our salvation will help us to remember God's character and Jesus's accomplishment. We can recall the work of God in our lives and give attention to how He is shaping us. Secondly, we can engage in Christian community. As Matthew 18:20 conveys, when we do life with others, the Holy Spirit is in the midst. In other words, we experience God's nearness when we draw near to His people. Finally, we can plan "getaways" with the Lord. Go on a walk through the park, travel to a new city, or dine by yourself with the intention to commune with God. As we utilize these activities, we will see that we are not alone or lost in this life, but we have a Friend who is beside us and guides us.