Lately because of someone I love losing their passion for the Lord in recent months, the term “shipwrecked faith” has come to mind.
This nautical term concerning faith comes from Scripture–1 Timothy 1:19:
“Holding fast to faith (that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence) and having a good (clear) conscience. By rejecting and thrusting from them [their conscience], some individuals have made shipwreck of their faith.”
The word “conscience” is mentioned here, and just yesterday I ran across a definition of that word in the Amplified Bible: “your inborn discernment.” (See 2 Corinthians 5:11)
So it seems when our faith becomes shipwrecked we choose to ignore our conscience—our inborn discernment—and do what feels right or what we decide in our minds is right.
When I looked online to find out more about a shipwrecked faith, this is what I discovered:
“What does it mean to shipwreck your faith? It means moving from the secure foundation of Jesus Christ. It means diluting your faith in God with faith in self, faith in effort, faith in your ability to perform. It’s trying instead of trusting. It’s striving instead of resting.” (From “Shipwrecked Faith” by Paul Ellis, January 30, 2013, Escape to Reality ministry)
I’ve wondered, “If this can happen to people in my life who were once walking close to the Lord, (it has repeatedly) can it happen to me?”
In my journal I wrote, “What Leads To A Shipwrecked Faith?” Here is what I felt led to put on that list:
neglect of prayer, neglect of the Word, self-absorption, lack of gratitude, justifying personal sin, pride, ignoring God’s instructions, loving the world and the things of this world.
I confess I’ve done everything on that list, granted usually only for short periods of time. But somehow I have kept the door open to hearing the Lord, and He has drawn me back again and again. Perhaps it’s when we do all of them at once and determine to keep on that course that our faith and passion for the Lord drastically diminishes.
My next list was: “How To Avoid a Shipwrecked Faith.”
I took the first list and put in the positive things we can do to keep our faith intact.
-Pray without ceasing.
-Stay in God’s Word.
-Minister to others.
-Maintain an attitude of gratitude.
-Maintain purity of heart. (This entails confessing sin promptly and asking God often if anything I’m doing is offensive to Him. See Psalm 139:23-24)
-Maintain a humble, teachable heart.
-Listen and obey.
-Love God above anything or anybody in this world.
So much of what I’ve written this year has been about trusting God. What I realize is that a shipwrecked faith comes when we stop trusting God, and we trust something or someone else. We may trust ourselves or some concept this world offers. We lose our discernment and believe that if we think it, it must be right.
I’ve done all of that—for a time. How grateful I am that God has rescued me from staying there because if I had, I might be where my friend seems to be right now.
Because the enemy is busy and devious, I cannot declare that I’m immune to having a shipwrecked faith, but I do believe if I determine to move toward the Lord and embrace this list He gave me, the enemy will not succeed in drawing me away from God and from fulfilling all that He put me on this earth to accomplish.
As I observe people who have a shipwrecked faith, I notice many of them back off when the door is opened for God to help them heal from the traumas of the past.
God is calling, “Come, be healed,” and they say, “No” and back away and then look to something in this world for healing. Perhaps they are scared, or it seems too dangerous to allow God to have His way completely in their hearts.
Maybe we are moving toward a shipwreck of our faith any time we say “no” to the Lord. (Jonah comes to mind). But God does give us more chances to say “yes.” Some areas we might say “no,” is when God says, “Forgive,” or tell the truth, even though it’s hard,” or “Go and minister to this group of people” or “write about this difficult subject.” This saying “no” to God goes along with the item on the above list that says, “Listen and obey.”
Here is a verse I found that I want to embrace wholeheartedly which will further help me to avoid a shipwrecked faith:
…work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). Philippians 2:12 AMPC
I’m praying my friend will come back to a living faith in the Lord with God in first place in her life. My goal through writing and speaking is to help as many people as possible to avoid shipwreck. I’m praying also and believing that I will stay devoted to the Lord and never experience a shipwreck of my faith.
“First” by Lauren Daigle