A group of young men boarded a raft in San Francisco. Their goal was Hawaii. They believed the current would naturally take them in that direction. They took no food, believing that they could catch all the fish they wanted along the way. They also did not take water. They had a method for distilling sea water into drinking water. So, off they went on their adventure, drifting along, hoping to get to Hawaii. As you might have guessed, their journey was not marked by success. Soon they were sending out frantic messages for help. They had not been able to catch fish as they hoped. Their method for distilling sea water was not working. And, to top it off, they were not drifting in a direction that would even take them to Hawaii.

How could anyone be so naïve? There is, in this, a lesson for all of us. How often have we tried to drift through life? Drifting will take you nowhere fast. Drifting is a form a neglecting. Effort and persistence are required to paddle upstream. Neglect the oars and there is only one direction we will go—downstream.

While heaven is a gift which cannot be earned, faith still calls for diligence, persistence, and effort. Paul says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). We are saved by grace through faith. Grace is God’s part in the matter of salvation—faith and works is our part. James tells us that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Heaven is upstream. One doesn’t arrive at heaven’s gate by drifting downstream. God’s grace is sufficient to get us to heaven, but we must accept His grace in obedient faith.

Have you been neglecting your faith? Are you just kind of drifting along hoping that the current will take you where you want to go? At least the young men in the raft had enough sense to call for help. God is our helper, and if we put our faith in Him, and follow after His word, He will lead us to our eternal home. Let’s make sure we’re not drifting through life. “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling…” (Philippians 2:12).