Slip Sliding Away
Have you ever had something you wanted to start and follow through with only to find that for whatever reason you quit? Maybe it was the New Years resolution to work out more or lose weight. Maybe it was the idea of saving money or getting a new job. We tend to be great starters in life. I have found that the hardest thing to do is not starting but persevering. Starting a good thing is great because that is the beginning point we all have to come to. However, many can start but few can finish. Most of the things we strive for in life can be achieved. The question is how much do we want them? That simple question can give us the insight into if we have the desire to achieve the goal. You see in anything we do there will be obstacles. Our desire to get through the obstacles, keep our eye on the prize and never give up will determine if we reach our goal. Quitting is not forever either. There are times that we might quit for awhile and then discover that we had a momentary failure which isn’t permanent. At this point we can re-establish our dream and become more determined than ever to reach it!
In 1977 Paul Simon recorded a song titled “Slip Sliding Away.” The chorus goes
“Slip sliding away, Slip sliding away,You know the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip sliding away.” I have read many interpretations of this song. In a vast majority it seems that the lyrics are described as sad. There are some who describe the song as among the saddest of all time. It is interpreted as a metaphor for life in that we may want something and strive for it only to find that we slip away from it. Considered most depressing is the idea of the prize almost within our grasp and then suddenly we slide back and lose it altogether.
I have heard the term backslider my whole life and I am sure you have heard it too. It means a person who is walking the christian walk but then for whatever reason quits. I heard a sermon about why this happens and there were many symptoms. Within all of these symptoms was a root cause. That root cause was selfishness. A person whose heart is pulling further away from God is invariably selfish. Selfishness is defined as being concerned excessively or exclusively, for oneself or one’s own advantage, pleasure, or welfare, regardless of others. When Jesus was asked which commandment in the law is the greatest he answers in Matthew 22:37. Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This describes a totally unselfish act. When we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind there is no desire to be selfish, only to also love the people around us unconditionally.
The problem that we have as Christians is that all around us we are getting pulled into the world’s standards. The “Me Generation” is still alive and well. This ideology is all about how we can get the greatest satisfaction out of life through actions and thinking. In ways it all sounds good but we have to understand that it is a humanistic approach. The center of it’s being is not God so it turns into a selfish act for selfish purposes. So what are the symptoms of this attitude? Just as we get physical symptoms when something is wrong with our bodies these are the symptoms that something is wrong with our walk with God. These are symptoms of the root cause of selfishness that we might have when we are slip sliding away.
!) Do not seek God
2) Don’t spend time with God
3) Don’t do things in the right order
4) God is not part of our thought process
5) We make decisions impulsively
6) We walk by sight and not by faith
7) We don’t screen our thoughts and assume things
8) Our light comes from many windows
9) We don’t have any accountability for what we do
10) We lose our respect or regard for God anymore
11) We start only thinking of ourselves
12) We don’t ponder the path of our feet
13) We don’t acknowledge God
14) We don’t seek instruction, direction, knowledge, or wisdom
15) We only pray for God to approve our agenda
16) We don’t yield to the Holy Spirit
17) We come to the place of living only to please ourselves
I could go into detail on each of these warning signals but let me concentrate on 15 and 16. Do we have a daily schedule that can’t be broken? What if the Holy Spirit tells us to change it? Would we be willing? With God in control of our lives his agenda is far more important than ours. My pastor went to a restaurant and the waiter was very excited about a menu item they should try. He was so excited about it that it was ordered. It turned out to be such a disappointment because the food didn’t live up to his excitement. The waiter should have been focused more on what his customers wanted. He was there to serve not to push his agenda. That is the way it is in our relationship with God. Our prayers to God should be what can I do for you Lord? It shouldn’t be what can you do for me?
I picture this slip sliding away theme of us climbing a steep slippery mountain. Jesus has reached his long arm out and he is pulling us up. As long as we keep our grip in his hand we move up to our eventual destination. Satan starts showing us other things to distract and cause us to reduce our grip on Jesus hand and reach for things around us. Eventually if we seek the things around us we loosen our grip and start a slow slide backwards. Jesus arm is long and even when this occurs we can reconnect with him. The decision is ours and ours alone.
The last verse in Simon’s song is my favorite.
God only knows, God makes his plan
The information’s unavailable to the mortal man
We’re working our jobs, collecting our pay
Believe we’re gliding down the highway, when in fact we’re slip sliding away
Since God knows our future and everything that will happen and has a plan for our lives, doesn’t it make sense to keep that grip firmly in his hand? There is a lyric in Simon’s chorus that is totally wrong with God. He states “The nearer your destination the more your slip sliding away.” With God when we learn to walk with him the nearer our destination the more we grip onto his hand. The more peace we have with the end goal and the more we embrace the reality of his love. Let us hang on for dear life with a strong grip in Jesus hand and we will not be slip sliding away!