My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. ~ James 5:19-20
I remember when my boys were little and I’d warn them to stay with me in the store and not wander off. Niles, my youngest, seemed to think he was invincible and would always test the waters by running off somewhere; at 12 years old he still does. I’d hear a “Mommy where are you?” in a panicked voice. I would purposely go about my business so he would learn the lesson. Eventually he would find me and my speech of why he shouldn’t run off ensued. Even though he’s 12 years old, I still have to remind him of the dangers of wandering off when we’re out. Still he thinks no one will harm him. His view is not much different than those believers who stray away from God. They figure He will protect them and their “little” hiatus won’t affect them in any way. How wrong they are.
A friend’s analogy of our walk with God has stuck with me since he said it several years ago. He said, “When we’re walking with God and wander off the path, He sits by the path waiting for us to return. He doesn’t come after us, because we are given free will to make our own decisions. When we find our way back to God, He’s sitting right where we left Him.” Believers wander off the path often and in various ways: cheating, lying, worrying, stress, resorting to old ways of living, etc. In each of these instances believers allow the circumstances of life to guide their thoughts and decisions.
The decision to hold on to the pressures of daily living pushes us further and further away from God.
We become consumed with life happening around us and I envision God standing at the edge of the path tapping His foot while checking his watch a million times and shaking His head. The writer of Lamentations tells us, “Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord (V 3:40).” We need to be honest with ourselves about why we wandered off the path; God knows anyway. When we finally return, He says, “Oh, there you are. I’m happy you’ve come back. “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls (1 Peter 2:25)”
God knows about everything that causes distress in our lives.
He can handle all of the crud better than we can. The thing He wants each of us to do is to give Him our whole heart so He can keep us safe from those situations and circumstances that come to test us. Instead of wandering off the path, God wants us cling to Him and lay all of our worries and cares at His feet. The writer of Deuteronomy 4:30 says, “When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice.”
Walking with God doesn’t mean the journey will be easy. No, walking with God means our faith and resolve become stronger and He has our back in all things. It also means that He will never leave us high and dry like we often do to Him. God is faithful in all things and wants us to trust Him with everything that encompasses our being. Stop wandering off like little children who are looking for mischief to get into. Instead, begin having those difficult conversations with God about what you think and feel. I promise you He will listen and provide just what you need at just the right time to continue on your walk with Him.
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Denise, I have been thinking about this for a couple of days. I am afraid that your friend has a small view of God when he sees God just sitting there, letting us go our own way when we wander off. If left to ourselves, we would not find our way back. When we wonder off the Bible says that Christ is the Good Shepherd who will go after even one lost sheep. In the Gospel of John we are promised the Helper, who will remind us all that Christ has said to us. He convicts of sin and nudges us in the right direction. I thank God for a Savior who does not let me go my own way, but calls me back to Himself when I wander.
Nothing but pure encouragement and wisdom to my heart as I read your post this morning, Denise. Thank you. I really do have a choice to wander back to Him. And He is so patient to wait for me.