Adrift On the Sea Of Life

I was watching the news about the recent boat filled with 3 couples that drifted out too far in the Atlantic and a squall came up. Thankfully they were rescued by the Coast Guard, but they were bruised and battered both physical and emotionally. The man at the helm admitted he was “coaxed out to sea because it was so beautiful and the water was so placid he didn’t think there was any danger until he realized he could no longer see any shoreline.” It wasn’t long and the winds whipped up high waves and without help, they most likely would have been swept out further only to drown in the turbulent waters.

The story made me think of a time when my twin sister, Emmy, and I decided to take out the small sailboat dinghy our dad built. It was a day with little wind but enough to enjoy tootling around Fisher Lake where we grew up at our resort in Northern Wisconsin. We were having so much fun we forgot Dad’s instructions about keeping an eye on the wind and the small islands that, due to rain, we may not see but we could stuck on. And that is exactly what happened!

Laughing and taking in the sun and then “herky-jerky-crunch-stop.” Yep, the keel hit the island which was mostly rocks and the rest is kind of like the 3 couples above, rescued by Dad, our “personal ‘Army’ Coast Guard!” He was kind, but reminded us of why this happened and how we, with his direction would have to fix the keel and the bottom of the boat. We hated disappointing my dad, but worse was the laughter when he hauled us to shore. You can imagine the kidding from the other kids.

We can drift in life and we don’t have to be in a boat! In fact, drifting happens so often we don’t even realize it until we look around and ask ourselves, “how did I get here?” That “here” isn’t always something traumatic, but the worst drift IS when God is out of the picture and we’re at the helm of the boat steering our lives on our own wisdom and strength. As we drift and then hit those rocks, we suddenly face a place we never thought we’d be in and wonder how we can get back.

The writer in Hebrews had profound warnings on spiritual drifting. Given spiritual insight he knew that any of us at any time in our life will encounter a place we never intended to be.

That is why we ought to pay even closer attention to the voice that has been speaking so that we will never drift away from it. For if the words of instruction and inspiration brought by heaven’s messengers were valid, and if we live in a universe where sin and disobedience receive their just rewards, then how will we escape destruction if we ignore this great salvation? We heard it first from our Lord Jesus, then from those who passed on His teaching. God also testifies to this truth by signs and wonders and miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit lighting on those He chooses. —Hebrews 2:1-4 [The Voice]

Those words, “Pay attention” – do any of you resonate with that? I sure do. Growing up those words from parents, grandparents, and other leaders in my life, were used often. Sometimes it was almost a dire note, “Please, pay extra-special attention to what I am going to tell you” – that’s certainly always caught my rapt attention!!

As we get older, sometimes we don’t think we need to join a Bible study group, we’ve done all that in our younger year, right? But the problem is, the less we take the Scriptures to heart, the less we meet in church or with a home group, a friend/mentor, etc., the easier it is to take all that “previous instruction” for granted and we drift and drift until we capsize.

That day when Em and I landed on the submerged rocky island, there was no way we could rock that boat off of it and believe me, we tried. To the rescue was our wonderful earthly father, a gift from God our heavenly Father (and Mother, and any person God will use to teach us and bring us close to Him).

No matter the instructions we all get in life, God knows we’ll forget, we’ll try our own ways, and sadly we’ll just toss the instructions aside as if they no longer have any use. And the worst of it is this is not a sudden drift. It is subtle, like the placid waters that begged the couples on the Atlantic to go further. We don’t notice what’s happened and the further we get going the more we forget the warnings: “pay attention” or “look both ways” etc.

  Thankfully, we have Jesus, our precious Savior who had a great understanding of boats on the water during hazardous weather! Just like He calmed the seas for His disciples, He calms us, brings us back on stable ground and keeps us from drifting. And in His love and care for us, He gently or sometimes with a bigger push — reminds us to “pay careful attention!”