Summary: We drift away from God when we began to doubt God’s good intentions and believe that we need something more to be happy.
[I’ve taken some pointers in this sermon from Chapter 5 ’Drifting Away from God’ in Joseph Stowell’s book RADICAL RELIANCE.]
You see, God did not hide from us. Man was the first to hide from God.
• Man did not seek God. It was God who first sought man out.
Tom cannot swim but enjoys going to the beach. On one of these trips, he was lying on a float floating just offshore. He closed his eyes, basking in the warm sun and enjoying the sounds of the waves.
When he opened his eyes, to his shock the shore was very far away then it had been before. He hopped off the float to get back, only to realise that he couldn’t touch the ground.
He panicked and scrambled back onto the float. No one else was in the waters nearby. His friends on the beach were yelling and having fun, and couldn’t hear his shouts for help. He has no choice but to hang on and inch his way toward shore bit by bit with each wave. His progress was slow and scary but he made it.
Drifting has a few characteristics.
• It happens gradually, almost insusceptible. You don’t feel it.
• It is not drastic. It does not happen overnight.
• And when you come to know it, you realise it has been there for some time.
Drifting away is always subtle. You don’t know it is taking place.
• One day, you wake up only to realise that you are far from where you should be.
• What is it that sets us adrift from God?
We want to look at Adam and Eve in Genesis and get some answers.
• They started off with the most intimate relationship with God.
• They were in the most ideal setting, with the Lord in the Garden of Eden, and commune with Him directly.
• So what changed that?
(1) Doubting God’s Good Intentions
When Satan wanted to break the bond of intimacy between man and God, he did not try to deny the existence of God.
• Adam and Eve had too much personal contact with the Lord for that to work.
• Instead, Satan started where he usually starts – by driving a wedge between Eve and her trust in God.
• She would not have fallen for the fruit, unless Satan could get her to doubt that God was good.
• Satan got her to question whether God had her best intentions in mind when He restricted her from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The best way to destroy a relationship is to drive a wedge of distrust.
• We see that often on TV in serial shows. Someone comes in and talks bad about the other person, and very soon misunderstanding sets in and the relationship turns sour.
• Distrust destroys relationship. We all experience that, in friendship or in marriages. We misread one another’s moves.
Satan breaks our trust in God by getting us to interpret God – His character, His words – in non-truthful ways.
• Eve believed Satan’s interpretation of God and His words.
• By the time she abandoned God for the supposed benefits of eating the fruit, nothing about God had changed.
All that had changed was her interpretation of God, the interpretation of the words she had previously obeyed with gladness.
• The generous God who had given her and Adam everything in the garden, except one tree, is now seen as stingy and restrictive.
• The God who had given her all things is now seen as keeping something from her that would bring her satisfaction.
• Worse, Satan suggested, God was selfishly preventing her from having the ‘best’ - sharing in His great power and knowledge.
Once we suspect God, we begin to move away from Him, emotionally.
• It is the same in human relationships. Once you suspect that your friend is betraying you, or your spouse is unfaithful, you are moving apart (not always physically initially, but emotionally, mentally.)
• Satan is good at making such suggestions, and putting these deceitful twists in our minds. Jesus says he is the father of lies (John 8:44).
Here are some common thoughts we have:
• God has been good to others but not as good to me. He has denied me some things I expected.
• God is somehow to blame for the mishaps I see around.
• I have been good, but God has not been treating me fairly.
• God is demanding, unduly restrictive and indifferent to my situation.
Every time a crisis happens, your interpretation of God is being challenged.
• You are urged to interpret God’s moves; you want to read His intentions.
• And if you do not know Him well enough, you are open to misinterpretation. You misread His moves and you misunderstand His intentions.