All morning long the words to the old hymn "Come Thou Fount" have been running through my mind as though to haunt it. The line from the song that keeps lingering there says, "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love..."
There is such a depth of truth in the line of that song. We in our sinful nature forever close to wandering away from our heart for God. It's not a walk of intention, but rather of distraction. It's not a purposeful moving away, but just as the song says, we are so inclined to wander away.
I can hear some of you now, with all the bluster of Peter, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” ((Luke 22:33) Perhaps not in those exact words, mind you, but the same passion, and the same sentiment, "I will never leave You, Lord, wherever you lead me, I will go."
Honestly I do not doubt or diminish the sincerity of such statements. I have made them myself, and I know the great conviction with which they are said. But the fact of the matter is, the obstacles and distractions have been set in place to attempt to draw us away.
This morning as I drove to work, and this song ran through my head, I thought to myself, how easy it is to simply slip in the diligence of pursuit of the Lord. How many mornings have I lingered too long in bed only to rise and rush past prayer or devotional and into my day. I think of the book "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" by Joanna Weaver where she tells the analogy of Christ waiting for us patiently in the room of our hearts we have set aside for Him. Daily He waits there while we let distraction draw us away, offering him nothing more than a wave as we pass by the "door" of His room in our heart.
So many snares and enticements to draw us away. Darkness, discouragement, sin and guilt, the big roadblocks to the road of walking close to Him. But there are potholes too on the road which we have been called to walk, potholes of busyness, offense, weariness. Even inviting detours like service can draw us away from the best, it quite simply, can draw us away from Him.
The greatest obstacle of course lies within ourselves. That sinful nature which with we first resisted His call. Although we willingly submit it to Him upon salvation, and it may even lie dormant for a time, always, always, it will rear it's ugly head again. When in rebellion it is easily spotted, and in a way, I think, less daunting a foe, for the intention is obvious, and so obviously addressed. Conviction will come, the Lord is faithful. Even we ourselves cannot deny (at least completely) our own rebellion. We see it, we know it. We are not unaware when rebellion draws us from Him. It is a miserable place to find ourselves, for even any joy we find in the sin, it's emptiness will ring out from our hearts and the backs of our minds.
That's not so with the wandering though, it is not done in rebellion nor defiance. It is just a distracted step that leads to another and then another, till suddenly, we look up and realize we have wandered so very far away. Oh the diligence that is required not to find ourselves in this perilous predicament. It is the slippery slope. It is the frog in the boiling water. It is a threat too easily overlooked in the body of Christ.
I love the cry of Robert Robinson in this same hymn, it sings, "Let Thy goodness (grace, says the modern version of the hymn), like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee." Yes Lord, this is my heart's cry too. A "fetter" is old time terminology for shackles upon the ankles. For one who was tied in this way, to a weight or another, there was no moving away from the anchor. Whatever movement made, it had to be in sync with the where it was bound. Why is it not so that the goodness of God keeps us tied so closely to Him, to His heart in all times.
The wandering heart, it must be continually submitted, again and again. It must choose to say, "I am not my own" not in my time, or my circumstances, not in my challenges or my victories, in all things, in all these times and places, God, you are Lord, and my heart is anchored to You by Your goodness and Your grace. It IS a submission, but unlike our salvation it is not a "once and for all" choice, we must continually hold, and draw near, or we will simply wander away, we are prone to it. To consider ourselves somehow immune to it, is foolishness, just ask Peter. Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:34)
I must confess, Peter's example certainly seems more dire and distinct than most of what I am referring to, but I believe the principle remains, even the strongest of saints is susceptible to slip.
I have had the days where my bible has remained unopened for weeks at a time, or even been misplaced, and that prayer has been avoided by a few more moments sleep. And I have had the days where my priorities were right and my pursuit purposeful, and the latter is better. He may be the Author and Finisher of my faith, but it does not change the fact, that I alone can do the running in my race. No one else can carry me, and the the Lord may coax me, He will not drag me on.
So foolish am I, or anyone to even for a moment consider that any other pursuit compare to the noble cause of following Christ alone. Not even in our service to Him should we ever be distracted from what He told Martha was, in fact, the "better part." (Luke 10)
That's my desire Lord, to have the tethered heart, that nothing would ever distract me from You, from taking in Your word of truth, of binding it around my heart. Let nothing be of greater importance than sitting at your feet, sharing my heart and resting in Yours. My heart may always the proclivity to run amiss, but together You and I can tame it. As the song says, till "that day when freed from sinning, I shall see Thy lovely face..."
Until that day Lord, as You walk with me, for you have promised, never to leave me nor forsake me, help me also to walk with You, that my heart may never wander away, in Jesus' name.