Prone to Wander

Tonight I have the privilege of teaching at our mid-week service where we’ve been studying the Old Testament in an overview format using The Story, a novelized version of the Bible published by Zondervan. My section is all about the children of Israelite wandering in the wilderness. When I read about their grumbling and whining, I honestly think, “What was wrong with those people! Why couldn’t they trust God for his promise to take them into the Promised Land?” But as I wrestle longer with the Scriptures and take a deeper look into my own heart, I see how the pattern of the Israelites is all too common and real for me and for all those who seek to follow God. We are all of us prone to wander.

Wandering takes so many different forms. Usually we think about the blatant nosedives into sin which provoke our gossip and judgment and make headlines. My wandering is far more subtle, almost imperceptible, as I slowly slide away from passionate devotion to God. I am tempted by laziness, self-absorption, and the lure of nothing. C.S. Lewis wrote about this temptation in The Screwtape Letters and Screwtape Proposes a Toast:

“Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off…The only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy… Murder is no better than cards if cards do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

This Christian fight, the fight for our hearts not to become hardened, is a battle against whatever can draw us away from our fundamental love for God and our devotion to following His voice. The Evil One effectively lures too many of us away by that which distracts and diminishes. I intend to be far more aware of my wandering toward Nothing…and choose to turn my heart back toward my first love, day by day, moment by moment, lest I discover that just like the children of Israel, I have lost my way.

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