The Day I Hooked A Seagull & Thought I’d Be Vaporized

I was excited to be fishing on Lake Ontario with my friend.  That is, until a huge seagull dove at my shiny surface lure and hooked itself in its foot.

I’m reeling this thing from the sky and it’s screaming, flapping, and swooping like some kind of mad kite.  I manage to grab its leg.  It’s a squawking, pecking, furious mass of wings and beak.  Somehow I remove the hook from its webbing without losing my eyes and it flies off quite glad to be away from me.

A little later the wind picks up and we begin drifting.  We’re not concerned – the boat has an outboard motor.  After a while we notice we’re moving toward the intake area beneath the looming stacks of a nuclear power plant, and see the warning signs on  either side of the opening – “Danger: Do Not Go Beyond This Point.”

We try to fire up the motor – it’s dead.  We drift past the danger signs.  A stab of panic.  We grab the oars and begin rowing furiously.  I think we may really be in trouble.  Eventually, with much effort, we row out of the intake area to safety.

Had we neglected the danger signs’ warning and continued to drift, it could have been disastrous. Spiritual drift is even more disastrous.

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (Hebrews 2:1)

If we don’t pay close attention to the gospel, we’ll drift from Christ.  Hebrews doesn’t say we MIGHT drift, but we WILL drift away. There’s no staying still in the Christian life – we must swim against the powerful current of the world, our flesh and the devil every day.

Drift is gradual

No Christian says I’m going to reject Christ, never read his word again, I’m done with fellowship.  It happens gradually, over time.  We begin to neglect Bible reading and prayer.  It’s not a sin if we fail to read Scripture every day, but if we neglect it for days or weeks on end, there can be consequences.  It’s not a sin to miss a Sunday or small group meeting, but God warns us to be careful, because we can so easily drift.

Drift is imperceptible

We say I really ought to get back to reading the Bible.  I will tomorrow.  I’m going to pray tomorrow.  I really should worship with the saints this morning, but I just don’t feel like it today.  But I will next week.

I once heard someone say that “tomorrow” is the devil’s favorite word.

How do we keep from drifting from Christ?

By paying close attention to the gospel.  By regular Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship.  By daily seeking to apply God’s word to every part of our lives.  If you’ve drifted or are drifting from Christ, repent, ask him for help and get back in the race.  Ask a brother or sister to pray for you.

It’s a fight, but there’s grace in Jesus.

photo by Donald Macleod

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  • Elaine

    Excellent post, Mark! Thanks for the encouragement.

    I remember a particularly dark time in my life when I drifted and it was exactly the pattern you mentioned here. One day it just hit me – how did I get to this place? Thankfully the Lord convicted me of my need for close fellowship with Him and His people; He blessed me with a group of friends from my church who loved me enough to pursue me graciously and lovingly. He was so good to correct me and draw me back to Himself.

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  • Mark Altrogge

    It’s hard for me to imagine you drifting Elaine, but I am grateful for the Lord and your friends who brought you back. I had a similar experience once and a bunch of my friends sat me down and challenged me about my drifting and God used it to turn me around as well. Praise God for faithful friends who speak the truth in love!

  • Petra Hefner

    The dangers of drifting are so real. We drift, smile, sleep with our eyes wide open. We don't take heed to the mercies of what could have happened. We forget the Thank You's while our self-absorption ignores additional warning signs, taking for granted that our motors will just fire up whenever needed. Mark, your analogies are chock-full of wisdom! Thank you for blowing the horn!

    • Mark Altrogge

      Hey Petra,

      Your response is poetic! How true–we need to constantly be thanking God for all his blessings and mercies. I believe the practice of thankfulness is a really good one to help us keep from drifting. Thanks for your comments!

  • http://www.worshipfulreader.blogspot.com Ron Reffett

    Hey Mark,
    Once again, much needed encouragement! Great post, I have been re-reading "Bookends of The Christian Life". I just finished the chapter on the gospel enemy of self suffenciency, a very insidious enemy because we never really see it coming. The remedy is preaching the gospel to ourselves everyday, simply because…we forget! so very easily! (the older I get the less that I remember…what were we talking about?…see, what I mean?)
    Even though we easily forget, I'm so thankful that the Lord does not and as Psalm 103:14 says, He remembers our frame, He remembers that we are dust. We do drift so easily, I'm thankful that the gospel centers us. Thanks for yet another dose of encouragement!
    Blessings
    Ron Reffett

    • MarkAltrogge

      Hey Ron, excellent comments! You are so right–self-sufficiency is probably one of the big causes of drifting. And I like what you said about the Lord knowing our frame and our weakness–ultimately it\’s only Jesus who keeps us from drifting because he is faithful. Thanks for adding these thoughts.

  • Brian

    Mark,

    Thanks for these thoughts. I am wondering if I can have permission to print this as a bulletin insert for our church. The outdoors hook will catch people, and the message is one we always need to hear.

    Brian Mikul
    pastorbrianpbc@gmail.com

    • MarkAltrogge

      Hey Brian, feel free to reprint any of our posts anytime. I\’m honored that you want to do that and hope it serves your church.