Saturday, April 24, 2010

Prone to Wander

I have been away from home a lot lately - Massachusetts last weekend, Florida the week before. As I peruse the calendar, I see I will be away from home a lot in the coming months. Ohio for a college reunion, New Hampshire for a two week vacation, Hawaii for a wedding, and then New Hampshire again for a couple of months. It is not work that carries me away from home. It is my nature. I am prone to wander.

One of my favorite hymns is "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing." My favorite stanza is this one:

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
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.

I was disturbed recently when I heard this song on the radio. I began to sing along only to discover that the words had been changed. (I assume Amy Grant changed them since she was singing it.) In place of "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love" she substituted, "Never let me wander from thee, Never leave thee God I love." Nice prayer, but it only makes sense when we acknowledge that we are prone to wander in the first place.

I pray a lot these days - more than I ever did when I was in fulltime ministry. And I pray differently than before. Most of my prayer time is spent wordlessly abiding in God. I rest my mind in the mind of Christ. I enjoy the spaciousness of the presence of God. My Father knows what I need before I ask him. I am home.

But even when on my knees, I am prone to wander. My mind drifts into godless thoughts, and my heart wanders into profane territory. My body follows my heart with tension and tightness. When I become aware of my wandering, I repent (which literally means "rethink") and return home to the joyous embrace of the Father.

Like a prodigal son I leave home, squander my inheritance, and return home several times in the space of a half hour. Every time I come home, I am welcomed with open arms as if I had never left.

Two thousand years ago Pliny the Elder wrote, "Home is where the heart is." Not for me. My heart is in a far country. My home is where God is.

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