Does God Find Me When I Wander?

Hello Hump Day Readers! I was reading a devotional the other day about “wandering” and it got me thinking, “does God find me when I wander?” Part of me says, “of course, God knows everything about me” but the next reaction to my question was, well—unsolicited! My mouth blurted out-loud, “but there are times I felt you deserted me!” Ouch. We all go through that don’t we. “God if only… you were there to heal my mom, or if only you were there to heal my marriage, or if only you could have stopped this pandemic…” So I on this Hump Day I’m asking: “While we wander does God wander with us? Does God find us in our wandering?”

Read these two quotes from some of my favorite writers:

Earth’s crammed with Heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes. —Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh

The trouble is that relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing has yet been done.  —C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcom, Chiefly on Prayer

C.S. Lewis hit the wander question on the head! Each day we should practice the spiritual discipline of saying, “God, today is a new day and no matter where I wander off to, I am relying on you.” Does this mean we won’t get lost, NOPE! I speak from personal experience and you probably do, too.

I’m part of a reading group from Proverbs 31 Women’s Ministry. I recently re-read a favorite of mine, A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer. He has a story in there about a ranching practice from the Great Plains blizzards days. “At the first sign of a brooding storm, they would tie a rope from the back door of the homestead to the door of the barn because in a blizzard one could lose their way from house to barn! If caught in some of those blizzards, one could freeze to death very easily.” And yes, that did happen more often than you’d think.

The analogy of the rancher’s rope is a good one, too. We can use a rope to pull-in someone who has wandered out in the waters. At our resort a rope with a life-saver–buoyancy ring came in handy from swimmers to fishermen who wandered out of bounds, etc.

For years I was a worship leader/pastor and at Christmas one of my favorite songs was I Wonder As I Wander.  Those words still resonate with me, like when I’m skiing downhill, backpacking in the woods, etc. It’s easy to get turned around and wander, especially if you are in wonderment of where you are! I can get going with my camera and the next second I’m shouting out “Al, where are you?”

I wrote in another devotion about drifting, but wandering is different. Because when you wander you are still seeking! Think about the wandering Israelites. They must have felt “this is going to last forever” as they sought the Promised Land. They had a purpose but when they forsook God’s instructions they were lost. Wandering can do that—even if we are seeking something.

One time while geocaching by the Grand Canyon North Rim in the Kaibab Forest, we chose a cache that gave us a nice hike. I forgot to use our “GPS rope” to mark where we parked the Suburban. As we went up and down through forest hills, following the coordinates, we enjoyed the wander (and the wonder) of the beautiful area. We eventually found the cache, dropped some goodies in it and logged-in our names. When we turned around to come back everything around us looked alike. Suffice it to say, we were lost and we had little water (in July) and it was rather scary. I apologized and owned up to the fact that I forgot to use the GPS to mark our parking spot. Over an hour later we found the vehicle!

I relate again to the Israelites wandering, no food-no water—yet God was in their wandering.  Moses struck the rock—water flowed; God provided quail, then manna—quite a story. And more so, was that—in spite of their long history of screwing up—God never stopped showing up in their wandering! And God still does that with us today.

You have kept record of my days of wandering. You have stored my tears in your bottle     and counted each of them. —Psalm 56:8 [esv] 

The Eternal did not remove the cloud pillar or the fire pillar; by day and by night it continued to go ahead of the people. —Exodus 13:22 [voice]

I believe that the Israelites story is yours and my story, too. Wandering, doing our own thing, lost and returning to God again—repeat. If this was someone we knew, we’d probably throw our hands in the air and yell “I give up on you!” But God thankfully isn’t like that. You notice that God never left His people and today is just the same—God never leaves the wanderers—EVER! Like the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, God’s presence is always with us.

So I think I can answer my question from the start: even when our hearts, our feet, our minds are wandering, God is wandering with us as well and God’s GPS is perfect!

There is a great contemporary Christian song titled, Defender, from Bethel Music. The refrain is powerful: When I thought I lost me You knew where I left me, You reintroduced me to Your love.

Here is the link to listen: