It’s not only easy, it’s natural. If you’ve been in a boat of any kind on the water (no matter the size), you are aware of the unceasing movement that occurs. Even on a calm day, the current pulls you from your original spot.
The writer of Hebrews uses this picture to remind of us of our tendency to drift away from what matters and lasts:
For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it (Hebrews 2:1 NASB).
You would think that the spiritual life would be immovable. Truth is unchanging. God is immovable, but the human soul is not. “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,” wrote Robert Robinson at the age of 22 in 1757.
Strong winds push us. The world and its marketing, our flesh and its weakness, the devil and his incessant whispering all push us downstream. We can wake up in an instant a million miles from Christ and His truth.
The remedy for this drift is to “pay much closer attention to what we have heard.”
We pay attention to what we value. If there is a television show or sporting event we want to see, we plan our schedules around it. We wouldn’t miss it for anything.
We give meticulous attention to our appearance, to our environments (because we love our comfort), to the latest and greatest material possession.
But what about the words from heaven? When Almighty God is speaking, do we listen? And not just listen, but pay much closer attention? Surely there could be nothing more important than to be lashed to Him and to His truth which sets us free.
What adjustments should be made in our lives this week to fight against the drift? More prayer, more study of His Word, more attention to instant obedience to the Spirit’s prompting, more Scripture memorization (a lost art to most), more fasting, more time with like-minded believers … these would help fight the drift.
Robinson felt that constant meditation on God’s goodness would help us. “Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.”
Surely there could be no greater task, because everything of value comes by closeness to God and attention to the words that are designed to keep us from being “led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Robinson’s prayer (put to music written by the great revivalist of the Second Great Awakening, Asahel Nettleton) is as important for us today as it was 260 years ago:
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.