George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Life of Drift
When the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive--Act 27:15
Causes of Drifting: Internal Breakdown
It is interesting to remember some of the causes that make vessels drift. Often it is a breakdown in the engine room. So long as the engines are in perfect order the vessel holds to its appointed course. But let the shaft snap, as sometimes happens, and immediately the ship begins to drift. And as it is with ships, so is it not infrequently with lives; they drift because of interior breakdown. It may be a breakdown in morality, though no one knows anything about it yet. It may be a breakdown in the will, for the will is the shaft of life. It may be a breakdown in some sweet and simple piety like that of prayer in the secret place--and the ship goes drifting on the sea. There is a story of an officer in the Great War who went drifting and was finally cashiered. He came back again to his old home and entered the little bedroom of his boyhood. Then, turning to his mother, "Mother," he said, "the whole thing began when I stopped praying as a lad beside that bed."
Drifting Caused by the Rising of the Tide or Change of Circumstances
Again, we must not forget that boats may drift because of the rising of the tide. One has had that experience on summer holidays. You draw the rowboat high up on the shore, and you leave it there, thinking it is safe. But the night is the night of a spring tide, and concurring with the tide there blows a gale. And in the morning you go to get the boat, only to find that it is gone: the spring tide has come and set it drifting. That is often how young people go drifting. Youth is the spring tide of life. Passions awake, tempestuous and turbulent; new thought and knowledge lap around the gunwale. And lives that once were safe, beached in the securities of childhood, go drifting like ships upon the sea. That often happens when a lad goes to college out of an orthodox and godly home. He enters a new world of thought and gains a new conception of the universe. And the ship that was so safe once amid the unquestioning pieties of home, finds itself drifting on the deeps. Spring tide has come, and spring tide is of God. God is in the flow as in the ebb. Lives that drift like that can be recaptured. There is One who is out to seek and save. I find a perennial and profound significance in a Savior who could walk upon the sea. Drifting stops when He is taken aboard.
A Drifting Ship Is a Danger to Other Shipping
It is well to note, too, that a drifting ship is always a danger to the other shipping. Every captain would corroborate that. You can chart a quicksand or a reef, and having them on the chart you can avoid them. But nobody can chart a drifting ship; it may be on you in a moment in the night. It is well to remember that in that regard a drifting life is like a drifting vessel; it is fraught with peril and disaster. When a man drifts from his anchorage in Christ, he affects a hundred other lives. No one can tell the hurt that he may bring when he drifts into indifference and worldliness--spoiling the fair name of Christ, damping the zeal of zealous, eager people, making it always easier to be skeptical and always harder to be true. One of the signals of a drifting iceberg is a rapid lowering of the temperature. Drifting lives are just like drifting icebergs: wherever they drift there is fall in temperature. They chill the church. They chill the congregation. They chill the eager loyalties of youth, not because they are notoriously bad, but just because they are drifting.
Christ Warns Us of Drifting Lives
That is one reason why our blessed Lord is always dead against the life of drift. He condemns it in a score of instances. Think how He describes the days of Noah. According to Genesis the earth was full of violence; but our Lord says nothing about violence as the precursor of calamity. He says that in the days before the flood men were eating, drinking, merrymaking, marrying--and then, suddenly, the flood came. Noah was a man of action, of swift decision, of determination. The others went drifting on from day to day, thoughtless, heedless, irresistible. It is the Lord's warning against the life of drift as leading to disaster, and He is always insisting upon that. The man of the one talent took no risks. He forfeited everything for doing nothing. The man who built his house upon the sand found that in the drift was his destruction. The man who worshipped God today and tomorrow was the slave of mammon was intolerable in the eyes of Jesus. Christ calls for action, for decision, for determination of the will. If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out; if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off. Nobody knew better than our Savior that we are here not to drift but to decide if we are ever to have the music and the crown.
Christ Was Never Accused of Drifting
And how beautifully is that exemplified in His own so perfect life! Scoffers said He drank, but no one ever said He drifted. By a magnificent energy of faithful will He put from Him all the kingdoms of the world. He chose the long, hard trail and held to it, though His feet were bleeding and His heart was breaking Far off He saw the cross in its agony and shame and ridicule, and He set His face steadfastly towards Jerusalem. Nothing could divert Him nor break the steady power of His purpose, no tempting friends nor cheering multitudes nor bitter desertion nor betrayal. The great word in the life of drift is may, but the great word in the life of Christ is must, and must is the last triumph of the will. No man can share His spirit who lives on in aimless indecision. Nobody can have His joy who shrinks from full surrender. The life of drift never reaches harbor. It reaches the quicksand and the reef--from which may God in His mercy save us all.
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