Drifting is something that happens over time. It’s slow and steady, almost imperceptible. It can happen so gradually in fact that it goes without notice. That’s the real problem with drifting spiritually – you don’t know it’s happening until it’s already happened.
But what if you could? Are there certain checkpoints that, if they appear in your life, you know that the drifting has started? That the rope tied to the anchor of faith has started to let out? That you are slowly moving in a direction that you didn’t intend to go? I think there are, and here’s three to think about.
1. Habits.All of us live in some kind of routine whether we know it or not. These routines can come about either intentionally or unintentionally. On the intentional side, it might be that you make yourself exercise or study the Bible; unintentionally it could be something as simple as always washing your hands when you come into the house from outside. It’s not something you planned; it’s just something you do.
One of the checkpoints for spiritual drift, I believe, is to take a look at your habits. See what patterns are emerging unintentionally. These patterns will give you a good indication of where your heart is moving. If, say, you are slowly moving toward the habit of self-isolation or over extending your schedule, then you know you need to take action in order to recenter yourself. Similarly, if you are getting out of the habit of daily Bible study, prayer, and honest conversation then the rope might be letting out a bit.
2. Response to sin.Sin can become a habit; so can our response to it. There is a certain sorrow that should accompany our sin. That sorrow is actually a good thing because it’s an indicator that we are grasping, at least in small part, the gravity of what it is we are doing. But if you find yourself becoming more and more flippant about the sin in your life, and correspondingly less and less worried about it, it’s a strong sign that you are moving further and further out.
3. Relationships with others.It continues to amaze me just how connected our relationships with others are with our relationship with God. The vertical always impacts the horizontal. So if you find yourself being easily angered, quickly annoyed, judgmental, or simply not as understanding and kind as you once were, that’s not just an issue you have with the people in your home or the workplace. It’s probably an indicator that something else is going on. I know for me one of the clearest indicators about the state of my relationship with God is how I am treating my wife and my kids.
These certainly aren’t the only ways to tell if you’re drifting spiritually. They are, however, I think 3 good checkpoints. If we examine our habits, our response to sin, and our relationships with others, I think we will be able to see whether or not we are paying the kind of close attention we need to in order to avoid that unintentionally drifting from God.
Books by Michael Kelley