During the last eight days we have prayed often for the two teenagers who were off the coast of Florida when their boat capsized. The news media showed their pictures repeatedly as search and rescue efforts were detailed. The Coast Guard and family searched tirelessly for the boys but to no avail. The boat was found drifting miles away from where they were last seen, but there was no sign of the boys.
I am sure I am not the only one who thought of the horror and fear that these young men likely felt when they realized that they were drifting farther from shore, farther from their families, farther from safety, with no way to change their path.
These thoughts reminded me of a song I often heard as a young child when my father sang in a men’s quartet at church. Drifting Down. The song depicts where we are in our natural sinful state without the Lord … far from shore, drifting from the heavenly Father’s loving care. Daddy is with the Lord now, and I am long past being a “young child”, but I still hear that song in my memory’s tape recording!
Drifting Down was written by Jessie Brown Pounds and composed by W. E. M. Hackleman, in 1898. The words to the first verse and chorus are these:
You are drifting far from shore, leaning on an idle oar, you are drifting, slowly drifting, drifting down; you are drifting with the tide, to the ocean wild and wide, you are drifting, slowly drifting, drifting down.
You are drifting down, drifting down (You are drifting, slowly drifting, you are slowly drifting down); to the dark and awful sea; you are drifting down (You are drifting, slowly drifting,). From a Father’s loving care, to the blackness of despair, you are drifting, slowly drifting, drifting down. [Obtained from: http://www.freehymnal.com/lyrics/drifting-down/, accessed March 8, 2013] (Emphasis mine)
The definition of “drifting” includes the concept of being carried along by currents of air or water; moving unhurriedly and smoothly; moving leisurely without purpose; to wander from a set course. [http://www.thefreedictionary.com/drifting, accessed May 9, 2013] In other words, when you are drifting slowly, there is the implication that you are not struggling; you are not working to correct the situation; you are drifting. No concern, no recognition of imminent peril. The shore is becoming less and less apparent, the voices are more and more distant as you just drift away!
What a dramatic contrast there is between the message of the old-time hymn Drifting Down and another age old hymn How Firm a Foundation. Beloved by millions of people through the ages, this hymn eloquently describes the foundation that Jesus Christ provides. I have not included all the verses here, but the words are taken from Isaiah 43:1-7 and, in its entirety, the hymn describes the foundation for the believer from birth through death.
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He hath said, To you, who to Jesus for refuge have fled?
In every condition, in sickness, in health; In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth; At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea, As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to its foes; That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
[Words: From A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, by John Rippon, 1787; hymn attributed variously to John Keene, Kirkham, and John Keith]
In short, the hymn writer encompasses every condition of our life. Sickness, poverty, sorrow, deep waters, fiery trials, old age stating that in all cases Jesus Christ will be with His children. The hymn ending, “I’ll never, no never, no never forsake” is the complete counterpoint to Drifting Down.
Which song depicts my life? Your life? Are you drifting down, going away from the Father’s love and security or are you leaning on Jesus as your Savior?
Are you afloat without an anchor or are you confident in His saving Grace?
Certainly, there may be times that even the most secure in Christ feel that they are drifting. But, the remedy is not to lay hopeless in the drift away from Him: the remedy is to turn and cling to the anchor, His cross, where you will find restoration and forgiveness with the secure anchor holding you steady even as you endure the storm.
We must continue to pray for the families who are still searching for their sons off the coast of Florida and we must give thanks for those who so diligently conducted the search for the young boys all last week. Pray that the Lord will be near to these families and rescue personnel and that His comfort and peace will overwhelm them during this time.
Further, let us also praise the Lord for the security and salvation He provides, that He is the answer to the drift that so many experience in their lives, and may we live always ready to explain how to obtain that security to those who may inquire.