We’re wanderers, we waiters.. we shift and shuffle from this foot to that. We pace the narrow space we’re waiting in, stare out the window awhile; and sometimes, when the waiting becomes too much and worry has overwhelmed us too long, we wander.
Infertility makes us wander. Singly-focused on one desire, impatience makes us wander. Disappointment and sorrow and silence makes us scuff stones along a familiar path as we wind our way away. Sometimes, we just need to be elsewhere.
One of my favourite hymns (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing) lets us sing of this:
O to grace how great a debtor,
Daily I’m convinced it’s true!
Let your goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to you;
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Sometimes we think God has left, don’t we? Forgotten us. In the frenetic bustle of December, the long, dark days of anxious longing, we feel abandoned. God seems silent, distant, maybe gone entirely. We push through family events and crowded malls and stare at an untrimmed tree in the dim corner of our living room and our hearts sigh heavy sighs and tears fall.
Questions rise quickly when we wander listlessly down paths not meant for us. Paths of ‘what if’ and ‘if only’. Paths of discontent and worry and a simmering belief that maybe God doesn’t care enough to see me. Maybe He’s forgotten us. Maybe He doesn’t understand how we’re expecting this to turn out.
In John 15, Jesus sits his disciples down and drills into them that, regardless of what happens in their lives, they need to remain in Him. No fewer than eleven times in seven verses does he stress, ‘Remain in me.’ The King James Version uses the word ‘abide’: the original means of which means ‘to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy’. Expectancy. In waiting. In a time of Advent. In the lighting of the Hope and Peace candles against the bleak darkness of a rat-race world.
Prone to wander, Lord… Stay, beloved. Stop. Abide. Remain in me.
Prone to leave… I’m here, my child. You are mine. Endure. Remain in me.
When we wander, God hasn’t moved. He hasn’t forgotten, abandoned or gone silent. He is where you left Him. Waiting. Arms open.
Especially in Advent, he is waiting. A King in a manger. Waiting to point us forward – and back – to a brutal cross. Arms open. Love bleeding.
If that untrimmed tree or that family gathering is setting your heart to wander, sit down. Stop. Endure. Remain in Him. Abide.
Not in your own strength, but in the strength of Him who will bind your wandering, aching, hope-sick heart to Him.
Thank you so much for joining us in this Advent series! I pray it will be a blessing to you.