Driving on highways late at night is hard for many of us. After long hours on the road, your mind gets foggy and if you are not careful, your car begins to drift on to the shoulder. But then you hear it and feel it… the rumble trips under your time and you wake up, straighten your vehicle and get back to driving on the road.
I think there are many of us who struggle with our daily devotion to God. We get comfortable or complacent and our actions and attitudes become more about duty and exhibit robotic behaviors. Passion is replaced with “going through the motions.” Life is lifeless. You begin to drift…
Throughout the Bible, we are warned about allowing our lives to descend to these kinds of levels. In Isaiah 29:13, we read these words, “The Lord says: These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”
Israel’s problem was what some would call living a mechanical religion. It is a life without purpose and meaning. It is reduced to an external conformity to a performance of religious things. Following rules and meeting people’s expectations and standards become the norm rather than living out your life wholly for God. This is a very dangerous place to be. When you feel yourself becoming spiritually dull, it is a warning sign that says, “Watch out! You are headed for trouble.”
This happens to all of us on occasion. It is healthy to ask yourself at times, “Have I lost my zeal for God?” Do the words from the hymns and choruses come out mechanically? Do the truths of the songs impact our hearts and lives? Am I feeding on the Word of God to nourish and support my soul? And when we do, have the truths of Scripture become dull and commonplace? Have I lost the sense of joy in my Christian experience? Have I lost my “first love?”
These are all danger signs Christians should all be aware of. Earlier in Isaiah 29, we read about that. in verses 5-6, we read: “Suddenly, in an instant, the Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.”
I grew up on Vancouver Island. If you are unaware, it lies on one of the greatest fault lines in the world. Earthquakes happen all the time. When I lived there, I hardly remember any of them. Why? Because many of them happened during the night and I was sleeping so deeply I didn’t notice. Maybe you’ve slept like that where people have shaken you, yelled you and maybe even used water to try to wake you and you hardly stir?
I think there are times in our lives where we are like that with God. We get so engrossed in our lives, in what we have prioritized, sometimes God needs to get our attention in not so conventional or comfortable ways. It might be through a disaster, health issue or something that will get your immediate and undivided attention. As difficult as it may feel, sometimes that is God’s way to wake you up to the danger of drifting away from the vitality of a spiritual walk.
I read the following story about a woman who lost her son. “A person expects to lose a parent, maybe even a brother, sister, aunt, or uncle; but never a child. My son would have been 16 years old this year. It has been 15 years since his death. He was the person who brought me to the Lord. Because of his death, I received my salvation. The comfort I found when I fell into God’s hands . . . God knows my pain; He lost a son too!
Fifteen years later . . . I still cry at Christmas; that’s when I remember his life and my loss. I still cry at Easter; that’s when I am assured I will see him again. I know I will never get over it because I don’t want to get over it. The intensity is less; but, like the joy of life takes the pain of birth away, I have found salvation through God’s Son because of the loss of mine!”
At times God will send something that wakes you up suddenly to the drift of your life. This is why He has spoken so helpfully through the prophets and the apostles, warning us of the danger of spiritual drift and the danger of living mechanically as a Christian.
As Christians, it is important that we thank God for His relentless pursuit of us when we drift away from Him and make our faith just a mechanical form of religion. Just as rumble strips wake us up if we fall asleep at the wheel, God can use difficulties in life to draw us back to Himself.
I think it is important for us to regularly examine ourselves and if you see yourself drifting, ask God to open your heart to the great riches that are waiting for us through living in vital fellowship with our living, loving Lord.