She looked in the mirror. With a hurting head, a hurting heart and hurting, bloodshot eyes, she quietly looked at her reflection as a single tear fell down her cheek. The lyrics to Robert Robinson's beautiful hymn Come Thou Fount echoed in her mind.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love...
I do love You, Lord, she prayed. But ...do You still love me?
We are frightened, doubting people. Jesus picked the perfect animal to call us - sheep. Like a lamb, I bleat and I smell and I'm pretty annoying. I'm not the smartest creature and I don't have the ability to defend myself alone. Without the Shepherd, I'm wide open and as vulnerable as a small, sick lamb in the wilderness. In truth, we are all like sheep and the thought of roaming away on our own seems pretty exciting on the surface. So we wander... but for the sheep who know their Master's voice, we feel it when we stray.
Christianity is profoundly simple but we always seem to complicate things. We are saved by grace through faith, but we feel as though we have to tack on a dozen other things for good measure to assure ourselves that we do, in fact, belong to Jesus. I understand the temptation to do that. I do it so very much. I am a perfectionist and I will work myself to the brink of a nervous breakdown in an effort to stay in good favor with the Lord. As if His love can be swayed by my imperfections! We are broken and imperfect but it does not change the love of God. I stand with Timothy, with Peter, with David, and with Martha and in the multitude of Christ followers who have denied the Savior of the world either by word or by action. I, too, have wandered from my Shepherd's side like a dumb sheep and have doubted the truth, have pretended I don't know Him, have willfully disobeyed and have allowed myself to care more about my own presentation than the presence of my God.
Prone to wander... Lord, I feel it.
When you or I go astray and wander from the fold, it is easy to feel totally lost and ashamed. But in Scripture we see that Jesus never rolls His eyes in exasperation and says, "There he/she goes again. What a stupid creature. I can't believe I died for him/her." He just doesn't do that. Instead He calls, searches and scans the horizon for your face. It doesn't take much to vent all our frustrations and anger when a fellow sheep wanders off. But don't judge too harshly. If you can recall your own need to be rescued, then you should humbly bleat your own "come back call" praising the Lord that His promises of life and love and security are faithful and true. Hurting people want something sure and secure to hold on to and it is a comfort to know that while our love and our promises change, those of the Shepherd do not. If He came and died for every single sin in my life, I have no business living as if He still tallies my sins up at the end of each day. As one who has wandered, I need to be reminded of so great a love, and so do the rest of the little lambs of God.
If you find yourself in the place where wanderers go, understand this: He is lovingly calling your name. He has loved you with an everlasting love and it is a love that will not let go and will not give up on you.
If you are in the wilderness and can't remember how to get home, you have a God that is able to keep all that you have committed to Him. You can be comforted knowing that the Good Shepherd loves you with a love that doesn't grow agitated or angered when His sheep forgets again. His love and His grace won't leave us alone in the cold wilderness as we bleat for help.
He is good and kind and has never lost one of His sheep. And for that, He is worthy to be praised. Hallelujah.
For more on this topic, study:
Isaiah 53:6; John 3:36; John 5:4; John 6:39;
John 10:27-28; John 14:16-17; John 17:9-12;
Romans 6:9-10; Romans 8:38-39;
1 Corinthians 11:31-32; Ephesians 1:13;
Colossians 3:3; 1 Peter 1:4-5; 1 John 2:19