“All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.” (Isaiah 53:6 NAS95)
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love;
Take my heart, O take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.
from the hymn “Come Thou Fount” by 22 yr old pastor Robert Robinson, 1757
Wandering is a problem for all of us. We know that it was for Moses’ followers - those poor souls of the wilderness wanderings. At first, having just exited slavery in Egypt, they made a beeline from Mt. Sinai’s covenant to the Land of Promise. But no, at the Jordan River’s edge, they would not believe the Lord’s promise and take possession of the land. And so God punished them by forcing them back, to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, until all that adult generation died.
And our author of Psalm 119 - that longest chapter in the Bible, and most amazing piece of poetry - in which most every verse in the psalm, nearly all of the 176 verses, hold a reference to the beauty and cruciality of God’s Word - that psalmist saw fit, in the last verse of this psalm, after all of his diligence and devotion, to confess: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep;” and then to beg of the Lord: “seek Your servant.” Even this disciple/follower had a problem with wandering.
So do you. It can happen in the busyness of life. You flit here and you flutter there. Before long, life has gobbled you up, and you can’t tell whether you own your life, or if your life owns you. One way to describe this behavior is “aimlessness.” The old proverb says, “Aim at nothing, and you will most surely hit it.” Sounds like wandering to me. This does not mean that you have done or will do nothing significant. You just will never know the ‘why’ or ‘what for.’
We often wander due to bad directions. In a world where ‘true truth’ is drowned out by the roar of ‘good lies,’ we pursue our paths with hopes of a happy ending at the end of the rainbow, missing the clues that indicate that we have been fooled by the advice of fools. Sophistry never demands that its professors show their work or reveal their sources.
Have you ever been lost in the woods? I have, up at the Dennis’ cottage when I was a boy. I did what many of us do when we wander and are lost. I started to run - to wander harder and get lost even deeper. Yes, I made it out of the woods. But have you? The verse at the top implies how. Turn to the good shepherd, Jesus, who gave His live for the sheep.