When God's children fall away

by Stan Mitchell

“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” (Hebrews 2:1).

I lay down in a rowboat on pretty Lake Alexander, in Zimbabwe, soaking up the warm sun. It was one of those days when the sun is just warm enough to make it pleasant, but not so hot as to become uncomfortable. I was no more than two feet from shore, and I allowed my eyes to close for a few moments, enjoying a perfect quiet.

I must have dozed off. When I awoke the warmth of the sun was gone. My eyes opened to the dark green shadow of a pine forest. I was on the opposite side of the lake, about a mile from where I had started.

The boat had drifted unbeknownst to me while I slept. Had the chill of the forest not awakened me, I might have drifted into considerable danger, perhaps near the spillway edge, and over to my death.

What happens to the child of God who falls away? This is a question I have pondered often.

  • Were they insincere when they first named their Lord in baptism?
  • Did they genuinely intend to give Christ a lifetime of service?
  • Was the Christian life they chose unexpectedly hard?
  • Were their hopes dashed upon the rocks of some unkindness at church?

I have heard the excuses. I have had the finger pointed at the church, and at me. I wasn’t too hurt, for I sensed that mostly these alibis were attempts to deflect responsibility away from the speaker.

Satan has no doubt been busy; we can count on that. But what has happened to the child of God who has fallen away?

I think that most Christians simply drift away, in the words of the Hebrew writer. They are lulled into a false sense of security, and before they are aware, they have drifted far from their intentions.

The drift is so inexorable, so slow, the boat’s movement so gentle, that they are not aware of how far they have drifted from the shore. Sometimes the chill of life far from the Son wakes them up in time. Other times, they simply never know until it proves too late.

As you read these words, I want to ask you, kindly, lovingly. Have you checked your distance from shore recently? How long has it been since you prayed? How many Sundays have you missed? Pay no attention, please, to the other voice, the one that whispers, “The sun is warm. Go back to sleep.”

Wake up and feel the cold of distance from the Son.

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