I think that most Christians can, in one way or another, relate to having their journey of faith compared to a roller coaster ride. There are many ups and downs and twists and turns when living life as a follower of Christ.
It is in many ways, both inherent and biblical, that we will encounter various trials and tribulations. The very nature of human beings dictates that we will not only encounter variations in our circumstances but also in our convictions.
Though God’s love for us is a constant and never wavering, our devotion and zeal for God and his will in our lives is often not.
I think it is safe to say that most Christians can define periods in their life of faith when they are simply on fire for God. Eagerly sharing his good news to any willing or, in some cases, unwilling ear.
Similarly, most of us have experienced times when the fire is perhaps not burning as bright as it should. We become distracted from and hardened to, the will and love of God.
A favorite preacher of mine often refers to a period when a Christian is distracted or wavering in their devotion to God as a time of back sliding.
I like this term as I feel it describes the circumstance very well. When you are living a life devoted to God you are moving forward towards God’s desires for you. When you turn yourself from him you are moving away from his desired path and you are back sliding.
The reality of the situation
So why does this happen? Why do we at times find ourselves back sliding? Well the mechanics of the situation are simple. We have been lured by the devil.
I’m sure it is a confronting thought to know that the devil has infiltrated our hearts and has caused us to, at times, shy away from God. This is however the situation.
The devil is the master of deception and when we are not looking for every opportunity to evangelize and show God’s love to others then the devil has deceived us.
There is good and evil in this world and not much in between. When we are spending our time pursuing self-gratification and devoting ourselves to achieving worldly goals then the devil is getting what he wants.
So, what to do when we start back sliding
Unfortunately I do not have any secret formula to staying focused or on track in a journey of faith. I do know this however; the battle between good and evil has already been won.
Christ’s death was a victory over the devil and it took away his stronghold over man. Now the only power the devil has is that which is willingly surrendered to him by us.
We therefore, must resist the devil’s deception and the desire to surrender our power to him. This can be difficult, the devil is the master of deception and he knows all the tricks in the book.
We must choose to
The responsibility is on us to choose to follow God. God cannot make us love him, in the same way he cannot stop us from back sliding.
Love of God is given meaning through our freedom of choice. If we could not choose to love God but instead were made to, then the love itself would have no meaning.
In the same way that we must choose to love God, we must also choose to resist the lures of the devil. Staying on track and not back sliding is our responsibility.
We have, as Christians, a need to consciously focus on God and at all times be aware of and resistant to the deception of the devil.
Matthew Fryer is a professional seafarer with a love of the ocean. After a career working on merchant ships Matthew has recently ventured into the mission field, most recently serving with YWAM onboard their medical and training vessel the ‘YWAM PNG’. When Matthew is not working away at sea he resides on the Gold Coast with his wife Clara and their two children Harold 6 and Jane 5.