The Danger of Drifting

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.” Mae West

Sometimes there are signs at the beach warning swimmers of a dangerous current, known around here as “riptide”. The news stations run clips of lifeguards expounding on the risk of getting caught in a riptide and the proper way to escape its grip before one is dragged out to sea.

I think about the danger of drift.

When I was a little girl, we would pack a cooler with tuna sandwiches on white bread, sliced cucumbers and Kool-aid in a thermos and spend long, lazy days at the beach. While my mother read “Jaws” on her blanket, my brother and I would take to the sea, walking out into the surf as far as we dared and riding in wave after wave.

After a few hours, we would emerge from the water and head to our blanket, only to find it nowhere in sight! Panicked, we would wonder if our mother had somehow forgotten and left without us! But then, from way back down the beach, we would hear a distant call, see a familiar figure waving and realize that the subtle force of the tide had carried us far from where we had started. We were oblivious to the tow until we emerged but by then, we were already far from where we wanted to be.

There should be signs up at church “Beware of Drifting”.

I drift.

Like sleeping with my eyes open, I usually drift right out in the open in full view of others. But, because I have been a Christian for so many years, I have perfected the art of looking like I am still properly moored.

The early signs of drift are subtle. My prayer life becomes inconsistent or routine. I read the Bible but don’t engage with its contents – walk away unaffected and unchanged. I show up at church but I’m thinking that I don’t like the words to that song or didn’t we sing that one last month and during the sermon I start my afternoon’s “to do” list in my head. I listen to a brother or sister and I look like I care what they’re saying and I respond as though I care what they’re saying but really, I don’t care, not really.

And I can feel that it’s not enough for God. (He’s sooo picky that way!). And I try to defend myself. “That was a prayer – why can’t that be enough?” “At least I read my Bible – c’mon, I can’t get something out of it EVERY time.” “Hey, I’m here at church, that’s something, isn’t it?” “I’m acting like I care and usually I do care so don’t I have some compassion credit I can borrow against now?”

And God says, “No. You’re in danger. Beware of drifting, daughter.”

And suddenly I can see that I am way down the beach from God. He seems so small and His voice seems very quiet and I can’t believe I didn’t see how far I had moved just by riding the tide.

And since everyone else is taking a dip in the same surf, they don’t notice either. See, I’m really good at looking like I’m awake now, even when I’m sleeping. Years of hanging with the church crowd and I know how to fake it with the best of them.

I can drift and teach. I can drift and blog. I can drift and serve. I can drift and witness. And before you know it, someone asks “Whatever happened to her?” and someone answers “I don’t know, she just drifted off.”

Are you drifting? Beware. It’s more treacherous than entering the riptide because it takes you away before anyone even notices.

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    The Conversation

  1. Jackie says:

    I’ve been drifting this summer and trying hard to swim back. This post was so well-written and it read like it was just for me. Thank you! I’m praying, starting a new bible study and journaling to find my back and I’ll get there but it’s so easy to drift isn’t it?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think fighting drift takes so much effort, and we don’t want to have to be that vigilant. I want to take it easy sometimes. And then it’s the things I don’t do that become the problem – people I don’t call, etc. Thanks for a great post!

  3. Julie says:


  4. Andrea says:

    I have been there before. Great post.

    Blessings and prayers,

  5. dlynne222 says:

    Great analogy! Thanks!

  6. Greg says:

    Excellent analogy, Lori! An active Christian (is there really any other kind?) should be constantly checking the shore (God’s Word) for drift. Jesus said that we know not the day when the Master returns, and He must find us faithful, or we will come in out of the water to an empty beach… for we will have missed the boat.

    One of the benefits of being married to someone who loves Jesus as much as I do, is that we help keep each other from drifting… and our son sometimes catches us, too! 🙂

  7. Anonymous says:

    Your posts are well-written and show deep insight. Good job!Fancy Nancy