From the parking lot, I watched a bag swirl to impressive heights, and then dash to the ground, mired in a puddle or snagged on some object. When the wind kicked up, it would be swept up again, muddied by the puddles, or torn by the last sharp edge.
If I had been on the lake, I could have watched this same wind drive sailing boats majestically on a course across the water. But not this bag, for all its motion, it went nowhere. It was slowly being destroyed for one reason: it was a victim of the wind, not sailing upon it. The bag was drifting.
There is a Bible verse that encourages people to grow up in God so that they no longer are tossed around by every wind of doctrine. (Ephesians 4:14)
The point is, our lives can be like that bag, victims of the wind instead of sailing. The winds upon which lives drift, are the currents of time and circumstances. We drift when we simply react to the winds and don’t navigate them.
A “reformed drifter”, Fredric Lipia, wrote an article entitled, “7 Signs You’re Drifting Through Life.” Based on his own experience and the observance of others he lists these warning signs:
- You don’t know what you want.
- You don’t have a plan.
- You just wait for what comes next.
- You’re bored and unmotivated.
- You’ve lost touch with yourself.
- You rely too much on other people. (Get swept up in other’s purposes.)
- You take little meaningful action, or purposeful time.
Going back to the sailing boat analogy, just because a boat is designed to sail, it doesn’t mean that it’s safe in the wind. Sailing itself is a skill, and that certainly takes “purposeful time” to learn. But even with the skills, you still need the tools. There are three tools that revolutionized sailing ships; the compass, the rudder, and the anchor. Every life needs these tools as well.
Every life needs a “true north.” Of course, with my convictions the one “true north” is God Himself. Regardless, every life needs a worthy absolute by which to navigate. Otherwise, by default, you will be drifting.
Every life must have goals. There are accomplishments we measure daily, that encourage us with tangible progress; and there are life-long goals that bring ultimate meaning to a life. They are interconnected and we need both.
But even the best goals will have to tack into the wind at some point. Our rudder is the purposeful discipline that keeps us on course, even when we don’t feel like it at the time. Discipline and resolve keep our goals on course.
Anchors are important, but it’s the sea anchor that will save you in a storm. When the winds and waves hit, the sea anchor stabilizes the boat by acting as a brake to slow down drifting, prevent the wrong orientation to the storm, and generally, keep things right-side up. We need to be anchored in wisdom. We need to be anchored in what has proven itself true before we face the storms of confusion.
The Bible speaks of this: “having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.” (1 Tim 1:19)
If you have lived life awhile, you have witnessed that the great tragedy of drifting, isn’t simply that NOTHING happens in the drifting life. It is like the bag. It may soar for a moment, but soon crashes into the puddles and snags. Lives that drift wherever often mire in the mud of drug abuse, promiscuity, or brushes with the law. The professional councilors will attest that drifting lives are slowly yet inexorably torn apart by helplessness, frustration, anger, resentment, guilt, and depression.
Of course, it is important to all of us to recognize the dangers of drifting. But how much more so for the young who have so much of life’s course to experience!
That is why I’m impassioned by our theme for kid’s camp this year; “FOCUS FOR LIFE.” Because if anything; the storms in life are building, not abating. It’s no time for drifting; especially the young. Anyway, it’s certainly food for thought.