Ever feel like you’re wandering in life, in habits you want to build, or goals you’re pursuing? Maybe you’re the type who loves to explore and adventure unprompted. People have a tendency to become distracted, to get carried away, to go with the flow… to wander. But when we wander in our faith, are there things that hold us back from finding our way? Let’s listen for the Lord together in our personal areas of wandering.
Hello, welcome to Faith Moments. My name is Odalis. I’m part of the pastoral team at Cornerstone Church. Welcome to this time. I’m so glad you’re here and we have this time to pursue God, listen for His voice, and grow in our faith together. We had some technical issues this time around, so we’re not live. My sincere prayer, as I’ve seen God do in different ways, is that He would touch you and meet you exactly in your faith journey, in this faith moment. As we pursue it together, you would hear His voice.
Today, we’re talking about faith and wandering. I think there’s something inherent in human nature where we wander. We get distracted. We stray from things for whatever the reasons may be. There’s this beautiful moment in scripture for us to look at. It demonstrates to us the tenderness with which God invites us to come back to Him. He’s drawing us back into, even in this very moment, whatever areas we wander. Whatever they may be, He’s drawing us in. Let’s go through this together and listen for the Lord’s voice in our own lives. I would love to pray.
Jesus, we thank you for this morning, for this time. Maybe it’s afternoon. Maybe it’s a week or two from now. Whenever God, we thank you for this time that we have to listen to Your voice, to slow down and be still before You. We ask for you to speak to us, Lord, in these few minutes that we’ll share together. Father, we are attentive to You and we listen to You. Give us a soft heart to hear You and receive. We pray these things, Jesus, in Your name. Amen.
I don’t know about you, but I can be a bit of a wanderer. Left to my own devices, my mind wanders. I’ll daydream, or get lost in memories, or wondering about the future. Without structure, I wander away, honestly, even from some things that I want to do. Whether it is productivity and getting things done, exercise, plans, or I can sometimes wander in that sense, without projects to work on. Sometimes my workday drifts into emails, conversations, and different things. It’s a distraction from life sometimes. I don’t know how it shows up for you, but I think we all have these places that we wander in our day-to-day.
When I was a kid, I would wander and wander. I would get distracted by something. My attention would get fixated on whatever was going on. My mom had to resort to one of those little kid backpacks with a rope tied to it. I’m not joking. She would lose track of me. I was just an independent kid who wanted to go and explore. I would physically wander away. Some wandering is rather unhelpful, like kids wandering away and getting lost. Not all wandering can be bad though. We can wander into conversations that are life-giving. We can wander into a bookstore and find a book that inspires us. We can wander around a city and find a little piece of art or a park that just refreshes us. Not all wandering is bad, of course, but some wandering draws us away from the things that are good. Child me, who needed the backpack, was wandering away from her mom and would’ve gotten lost, et cetera, et cetera.
How do you wander in your life? Maybe it’s a good wander, wandering travel, all that. Maybe it’s some wandering that has some difficult consequences associated with it. If I have a go-to about wandering in the scriptures, it’s easy pickings. It’s the people of Israel. They wandered through the desert for 40 years. That’s an easy pinpoint. But the one that I want us to spend time with here is after the wilderness after they have landed, and become an established nation, a people group. Though they didn’t physically wander at that time, their hearts, attention, and devotion, wandered. It was this cycle of wandering. Of choosing their wandering over God. Of God letting them make their choices and coming back, and the cycle went on and on. Prophets, judges, and good kings would call them out. They would point out their wandering to them. Used by God to draw them back into the place where they not only should be, but the place they wanted to be, the place they had committed to be before the Lord, to be His people, for them to be their God.
They’d wander and give their hearts and worship away. One of those prophets is called Hosea. Hosea has a book in the Older Testament. It’s pretty short, but it is heartbreaking and beautiful. It’s kind of intense to read. The whole thing is an illustration of the faithful love of God, despite the incredible unfaithfulness of His people. It’s visceral in how God describes the pain that He feels when His people are unfaithful. Wandering away from Him. Choosing to give their love to others, though they know and want to be where they should be, which is with God. It describes the pain and sense of abandonment that God felt with His people continually turning away from Him. It describes at the same time, the inherent justice of who God is, how He will make all things right.
Where I want us to look is the second chapter, it’s just a couple of verses. Right before this, God describes very clearly His justice. It is intense and clear. God is equally just as He is merciful, but the consequences were in store for this group of people because they had made a promise and broken it, despite warnings and invitation. Right there, immediately following this description is the mercy of God on full display. He is just and merciful, fully, in only a way God can be. Let’s read Hosea 2: 14-15. If you have a Bible you can read from there.
It says, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,” her being Israel, “and bring her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There, I will give her her vineyards and make the valley of Achor a door of hope. There she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.” Achor here means trouble. It’s just this beautiful demonstration of God saying, “I’m going to call out to her and reach her,” her being Israel, His people, “I’ll call out to reach them and draw them back in, speak tenderly, softly, lovingly, to draw them back into their first love,” the days of her youth. The love, passion, excitement, and commitment with that relationship with the Lord, being His. It’s beautiful. God knows His people. He knows us. He knows that they, we, have a tendency to wander. The incredible beauty of our lives in Christ is that at any, and every moment, God is speaking to us in the same way here. That tenderness, that calling us back, to turn our trouble into hope, inviting us to respond in love and joy as we did at first.
What are our wandering tendencies now? In what ways do we so often unintentionally wander from God? Is it in our prayer life? Is it in church attendance? Maybe our Bible reading? Maybe using our gifts to help others? Maybe it’s giving? Maybe it’s extending love and a helping hand to others? Do we wander, even in our minds, rehearsing pain, instead of forgiveness? Are there things that we know, we feel that sense of, “I want to get back to that. I want to be better at my prayer life, but I just haven’t prayed in so long. I just am not in a good head space right now. Let me get in a better headspace and then I’ll pray again.” Or with church, “I don’t have my life together enough. I don’t want to go to church until I’ve just got things a little bit better and then I’ll go back and I’ll dive in and it’ll be good. Let me just get it together first.”
It’s the other way around. We don’t continue to wander and find our way back. We turn, we turn back away from the things that have drawn our attention away to a God who is there speaking tenderly to us, to draw us back in. There’s a quote that Pastor Sam mentioned last week, “Church is not a museum for the righteous, but a hospital for sinners.” You don’t show up to God because you’ve got your life fully together. You show up to God because He has seen how messy our lives are. He knows the brokenness and He loves us still. He died on the cross. Through the empty tomb, He wants us exactly where we’re at. We don’t need to find our way back to Him. He’s already there. We just need to turn our face up from where we’re at, away from the things, and just look to Him and choose Him. He’s already there.
What draws your heart? What draws your heart more closely, draws you further from God? Are the things that we pay most attention to right now things that turn us to Him, draw us closer to Him, or away? Whatever areas they are, the Lord is tenderly speaking to us even at this moment, inviting us, calling us, empowering us. The Holy Spirit in us is empowering us to make that change, to turn to Him and say, “God, I choose You.” They are hard choices, sometimes. Sometimes they’re more simple, I know, but sometimes they’re really hard choices. It’s a re-prioritization to put God at the center and first, to worship Him over everything else.
In whatever areas of your wandering are, why don’t we, together, if you’re okay with it from the privacy of your home or the car, wherever, you can put your hands out, or whatever posture of your heart is that openness. Let’s pray together for the Lord to draw us away from the things that pull us from Him and back toward Him.
Lord God, we thank you for this reminder that at any moment, at every moment, You are calling us tenderly and lovingly. You have made a way for us to turn away from the things that pull us from You and turn toward You. We bring You openly our distractions, wandering, and ourselves. We ask for You to draw us back into You, for You to renew a sense of passion like at first. If we’ve never felt that sense of passion, of fire, of closeness to you, Jesus, we ask for You to make yourself known to us. We want You. Lord, have Your way with us. Keep us tethered to You, God, and when we start to wander, would You just speak lovingly, tenderly, to us and draw us back in before we get too far? Jesus, we love You and we thank You. We pray these things in Your good, beautiful, steady name. Amen. Let’s stay close to Him. Let’s pursue Him. I pray for the Lord to bless you. We’ll see you next time.