I don’t know whether it is some thing that other Christians have discovered but I often find myself coming up with analogies for messages within the Scripture, especially those which connect with me on a deeper lesson. And this is one as “Drifting Down a River” came to me when I was reading a Christian blog post which in relation to 1 Timothy 4 the author had used the word drift. It was only a casual use of the word, there was no focus on it but it made me think back to my younger years as a Christian and gave me a picture as an analogy for it.
Imagine you are out canoeing with friends and you are drifting down a river which is littered with hazards. For a while when ever some thing would come along be it a rock or a thick patch of weed you put in the effort to navigate around it or go over it, or catch up with friends when they seem to be getting ahead. But then you start to not bother, you happily drift along looking at what is happening on the river banks and allowing the current to carry you, not putting in any effort at all until BAM you end up snagged in some weeds. But rather than trying to deal with it you think “well I will come loose and get back on down the river in a minute”. But you don’t and as time passes not only do more weeds grow to ensnare you but other detritus ends up being attracted to your canoe until you are well and truly stuck, maybe even sinking under the weight of all that has trapped you.
In many ways that little analogy explains my faith when I was a young Christian because I was just coasting along. Once in a while I would put in the effort to deal with issues coming my way in the form of friends tempting me to do some thing I shouldn’t but most of the time I was drifting, singing songs at church, attending house group but never really putting in the effort to study the Bible or looking to build my faith. And unsurprisingly I ended up becoming snagged by one of life’s hazards which over the years attracted a lot of other detritus until I got to a point where it definitely felt like I was sinking. The good news is that God is there with that life line, just waiting for you to say “I need you God, I can’t do this on my own”.
The thing is that if you were to speak to any canoeist they would tell you that you need to train to take on a river filled with hazards. And in many ways that is what life can feel like, a river filled with hazards which as Christians you can’t just coast down saying I am a believer, I am a Christian so I will be okay. For us, that training that we need to do in order to navigate life’s hazard filled river is to create and maintain a strong, powerful faith which comes through studying the Bible, through prayer, and through reliance on God in everything. But then also forming strong relationships with other Christians, which is why church is important, not some thing I once thought but now realise to be so critical as it is those Christians who can help you when you find yourself starting to get snagged by one of life’s hazards.
It why the Apostle Paul says in the second part of 1 Timothy 4:7, and I love the wording in the 1996 NLT bible, “Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness”. I just love that idea of “spiritual fitness” and it is some thing we, as Christians, should all be doing continuously because whilst you might have had an unshakeable faith at one time you can lose it if you don’t keep on training yourself for spiritual fitness. And to put it really simply, with out that strong faith which comes from spiritual fitness it is harder to resist temptation and buckle to problems when they come along.