“Not all who wander are lost.”
That quote by J.R.R. Tolkien is a favorite of my sister’s. I can’t fault her for her interpretation: staying put in one spot all your life–never exploring your options, never seeing the world with fresh eyes would be a shame.
For me though, it has a different meaning and a different outcome. When I go wandering away from God, I always find myself quite lost–damaging relationships, destroying my budget, wreaking havoc on my health. Generally unhappy and unpleasant to be around. Selfish. Greedy. Misguided.
I am dependent on God for success in life. I can’t love without His heart, can’t think straight without the Mind of Christ, cannot serve others effectively without His energy and direction. I am like a whirling Dervish on my own, out of control, cutting a path of destruction.
Jesus said that He is the vine and we are the branches. It is His life flowing through us that produces good fruit. “I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NLT).
Of course, the statement should end with the word “good”. We can do nothing good apart from Him. We can do a lot of bad. It doesn’t take a connection to Jesus to destroy a marriage, gamble away the rent, or any number of destructive accomplishments. When I drop my grip on the Vine and go it alone, I eventually find myself in an unhappy place. Once I realize the mistake I’ve made, I’ll reach out to grasp His hand, but I wear the battle scars of my solo journey.
I’m learning to recognize the signs of disconnection sooner–a little thirsty, just a tad dry–and my wanderings are not as far or long or devastating. But why do I ever let go? It’s always foolish.
Staying connected to Jesus takes time. Time reading the Bible, listening to or reading books by faith-building teachers, praying and listening to God. Vacation, company, deadlines…allow these things to interrupt your time with Him at your own peril. We are prone to wander and when we follow our own path, we can wake up and find ourselves someplace we never wanted to go.
There is a beautiful song, Come Thou Fount of Many Blessings, that expresses my situation:
“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”
Yes! Explore the world. Plumb the depths of your own soul. See and learn everything you can. Following a well-worn path is not required. Experiencing it all with Jesus, however, will make every experience richer, more meaningful, and much more productive.
How has going it alone worked for you?