“You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?”
The old hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” was penned by Robert Robinson before the American Revolution. It contains the aching lyric, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love…”
The Bible speaks again and again of man’s wandering from the throne of God. For having murdered his brother, Cain was made a vagabond on the earth (Gen. 4:12). Hagar was sent to wander in the wilderness by Abraham (Gen. 21:14), at Sarah’s jealous urging (Gen. 21:10). Israel was caused to wander for forty years in the desert, for having offended God by little faith (Num. 32: 13). The Book of Job and Book of Psalms both characterize the wicked as wandering about in search of food (Job 15:23; Ps. 59:15).
Some four thousand years later, this flesh of ours longs to wander still. We wander from the Commandments for many reasons. We may seek novelty or adventure. We may be angry with God for some event in our lives. Perhaps the Word seems dry. Whatever the reason, we convince ourselves that our motives are pure, drawn all the while toward temptations of which we have been forewarned. We persuade ourselves we are the exception to a rule made for others, yet are overcome by emotions we should instead reign in.
And we make the same mistakes, over and over.
The more we come to know and love God, the more painful the wandering. Like Cain, we are lost without God. But like Hagar, we are never lost to God. The desert is full of lessons for us, as it was for Israel. Not the least of these is the Father’s forgiveness for the prodigal son (Luke 15:21-24).
The fatted calf awaits us. Prodigals all, He will bring us home…where we will rest from wandering, and gladly stray no more.