I grew up in California and loved the Pacific Ocean. Living in Wisconsin now, I miss the sandy beaches, the rugged coastline, and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. A few years back, my family and I visited my sister and her family in the LA area. A fun day trip was going to one of the local beaches. And one of the highlights was grabbing a boogie board and catching the waves and riding them to shore.
Part of the fun was hanging onto the board and floating, feeling the cool water around me and the soft sand beneath my feet. It was not long, though, before all of us were getting farther and farther out to sea and moving down the coastline.
I was not paddling out from the shore nor was it my intention to move down the shoreline. I was just drifting.
To drift means “a continuous slow movement from one place to another.” What was interesting about my movement in the ocean is that it occurred because I did nothing. I was not kicking my feet to propel myself, nor was I using the boogie board to steer myself. And unless I engaged the situation at hand, it was not going to self correct.
I. Just. Did. Nothing.
Drifting never gets you to a good spot
As with the ocean, I tend to drift in my own life as a guy and I have noticed that I never drift to a desired place. I never drift to loving my wife with passion and pursuit. I never drift to fully being satisfied in Jesus. I never drift to authentic community with other guys.
Paul, in his letter to Timothy, says this:
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (I Timothy 4:16)
I cannot recollect a time where I have actually heard a guy state that he desires to just move aimlessly in life. But yet I see its pull in my own life and in the wreckage that I see in the lives of guys around me. We guys, and I mean me included, are buying into a sell that is severely under delivering in its promise. And like a rock dropped in the water, the effects of a man’s drifting are never confined to his own life. Ripples keep moving out and out and out. And many waves end up hitting on the shore.
Why do I drift in my life? Why do men drift in their lives? Though these are not all-encompassing, I would like to offer four reasons for why this happens, and then a final thought of what then needs to happen.
4 reasons I tend to drift in my life
- I look primarily at me and my life and what will help me succeed. When I was bobbing up and down in the ocean, I never noticed drift while looking at the boogie board or the water around me. I only noticed drift when looking at the shore.
- The scriptures are no longer my anchor point. Just like looking at the shore told me where I was to where I wanted to be, so does God’s word. It is my spiritual mirror. And on those days where reading the Bible is just another notch in my belt of “what I did for God,” reading becomes self serving. I miss the fact that one of the primary benefits of reading truth is that it helps me see where I am versus where I need to be.
- I fail to include other men around me to counter my drifting. The only thing that helped me back to shore to my family was engaging the situation with intentionality. Guys, we are not wired to live in spiritual isolation. Ask God to place someone in your life.
- I am fearful. Either because of people pleasing or not wanting to make a poor decision, I end up doing nothing. I do not want to go in a wrong direction so I go in no direction at all (which is a poor direction).
King David got it right
Listen to the psalmist and notice his intentionality:
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word. (Psalm 119:9-16)
Where does hope lie?
What is the answer to our drifting as guys? Start with repentance. Repentance is a gift given by God that opens the gateway to reconciliation. It is not turning my ship around and then “workin’ hard” to get back to God. Rather, it is God helping me see His Son Jesus in truth and then He enables me to get there.
We call that dependence.
With me, it is not if I am drifting. It is when. And like floating in the ocean, you will never end up at a desired location.
Cry out to God. Immerse in truth. Gather godly men around you. And turn your fear over to your loving Father. Because your drifting is rendering you powerless and it is killing your family.