As a bird that wanders from her nest, so is a man who wanders from his place” (Prov. 27:8, MEV).
Written in 1757, the following lyrics echo with great clarity to a generation that has wandered so far off that we can barely hear God’s call to return to Him: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, O take and seal it; seal it for Thy courts above.”
“Wander” means to depart, stray, or retreat from what we know to be right. As a result, guilt and shame can dominate our lives. Proverbs 13:15 reminds us that “the way of the transgressor” is hard. For many, this is an understatement if we are fighting against God … fighting against what we know to be right.
In the same way that the DMV offers a certificate of non-operation when a vehicle is not working properly, wandering from God makes us ineffective, unproductive, negative, angry, depressed, disgruntled, discouraged, critical and lifeless. It’s clear from Scripture that the wanderer within must be restrained. How do we restrain a nature prone to wander?
1 John 1:9 offers the first glimpse of hope: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Acts 3:19 adds that repentance leads to times of refreshing. Repentance and obedience to God’s Word frees us from shame and guilt, and gets us back on track.
Honest self-examination of our heart must take place. 1 Samuel 15:23 says, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness like the evil of idolatry …” God is not saying that He will reject a Christian when they rebel (or we’d all be in trouble); He is saying that disobedience is the same as magic and divination. At the heart of magic is rebellion; at the heart of false worship is self-exaltation.
There is a deeper anointing, a more powerful place of worship, a more prominent place of service that flows from obedience. When we reject the word of the Lord through disobedience there is a high price to pay.