Those of us who have faith in God know that the journey has its ups and downs. We know that it is easy to drift away from God. Sometimes the process is slow and drawn out. But there are always warning signs that shows us when we’re walking away. Here are five.
The first warning sign shows up in worship.
1. Worship of any kind, or style seems empty.
If we are going through the motions in worship, or if we’ve dropped out of regularly worshiping with the church, that is a danger. None of us were meant to live our faith in isolation, but in community. And the worship of God should move us to a greater love and appreciation for Him. If the worship of God doesn’t lead us to praise Him, or consider His attributes, or yield to His desires, we have drifted into dangerous territory. This doesn’t mean that every service will have a dynamic impact, but if we go week after week uninspired by worship, be warned. Also, this isn’t about style. The truth is, in times when I’ve been close to God, I’ve worshiped in traditional, liturgical, contemporary and even foreign language services.
The second warning sign has to do with God’s Word.
2. The Word of God falls flat.
When God’s Word no longer feeds us it is because we’ve moved. God’s Word is living and active. The Spirit of God speaks through it to move us and transform us into the image of Jesus. When it no longer has that affect, we have drifted outside the reach of God’s instruction. This doesn’t mean that every passage has to have the same impact or meaning for us. But when we no longer hunger for the leading of God’s Word, it is because we’ve decided to lead our own lives and trust on our own understanding.
The third warning sign comes from a cluttered mind.
3. A day goes by without considering God and His desires.
When we have become so wrapped up in our world that we’ve pushed God out of our thoughts, it is dangerous. If we’re proceeding through our day without a thought of God and his role in our lives, we’ve minimized him in our minds. He has become an afterthought. We no longer whisper to him in the morning or sigh a prayer as we’re settling in for the night. This reveals the distance that has crept between you and him.
The fourth sign shows a decline in depending on Him.
4. You’re making big decisions without prayer.
A house, a car, the person you’ve asked on a date… all these decisions are made without praying for his guidance. When we do this, we have turned the equation around. Now, if we do pray, we want God to bless what we’ve decided to do, instead of consulting him on what he wants for us. This has put is into a position to travel headlong away from the will of God for us.
The fifth sign indicates how we love.
5. You no longer look forward to being with Jesus.
I’m not talking about wanting to die and go to heaven (although that may be part of it). But I am speaking of the desire to be in a close relationship to him, to walk with him through every day life. When we no longer long for the affection of Christ, we have let other things take his place. If he is no longer the goal of my life, something has displaced him.
Each of these are “warning indicators.” We have walked away, wandered away from him. So, what do we do?
1. Remember. Remember what it was like to be close to him. Do you remember a time when worship was rich, the word spoke and prayer flowed like a conversation to an ever-present friend? Reflect on those days.
2. Repent. Spend a little time letting God know that you know! Apologize for the distance you’ve created whether intentionally, or by neglect. Let him show you in that quiet time, what steps got you to where you are. What decisions were made? What practices have pushed him out?
3. Do. Do the things you used to do. Remember the things you did when you first felt close to Christ? Remember what you read? Remember who you talked with? Remember the small group of Christians you connected with? Remember the songs you sang? Start doing those things again! Do them with a new commitment and new vigor.
God doesn’t want us to love him from a distance. Don’t you be satisfied with that. And he’s given us what we need to be close.
Question: What other warning signs would you identify?