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Our Wandering Hearts

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6, ESV).

Hey, wanderer!

Yes, you. Stop glancing over your shoulder. Look in the mirror. The sobering truth is we are all wanderers—either we did wander (past tense) or we are still wandering (present tense) or someday we will wander (future tense). It’s the universal condition of the human heart.

To wander is to proceed without a proper sense of direction—spinning out of orbit, going astray, turning to our own way, as Isaiah describes. Like foolish sheep, we wander away from our Good Shepherd, away from the safety of the fold, and we expose ourselves to countless dangers. But the Shepherd calls us by name to come home, and He gives His own life to bring us there (see John 10:1–18).

This is the good news of the gospel, the life-giving truth every wanderer desperately needs to hear. The past can be forgiven. Hurts can be healed. Sin can be atoned for. And we can celebrate what Jesus Christ has done for sinful people—starting with ourselves!

The story of Robert Robinson illustrates this well. In 1757 Robinson wrote a beloved hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” His insightful lyrics describe our human tendency to wander:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Take my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above.


Curiously, some accounts of Robinson’s life suggest that after writing it, he wandered from God—not for a year but for decades. Bouncing between denominations, wandering became a pattern in his life. Thirty years after he wrote that hymn, Robinson met a young woman who happened to be reading a collection of poetry and hymns. He asked her to read aloud from her book, and she unknowingly read to him the very words of the hymn he had written years before. Apparently Robinson not only admitted to having written the lyrics but also to his deep longing to feel again what he had experienced with God when those words had been inspired. “Madam,” he said, “I am the poor unhappy man who composed that hymn many years ago. And I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I then had!”

Do you know that familiar tendency, a proneness to go your own way, intentionally or inadvertently? Like Robinson, have you wandered from God? Hear the invitation: You can wake up right now and get back to following Christ. Stop being foolish and playing around with nonsense that will only trash you and the people you love.

Maybe you made a foolish decision this week. Maybe you allowed a wrong desire to begin to grow in you. Maybe you’re playing with fire. You might arrogantly think, See? I’m not singed! I didn’t get burned. Yet. Receive this word as coming from the Lord Himself. Don’t think you can beat the odds; you can’t. If you have wandered, come back—today, right now! It’s time.

Come back—perhaps to your home, to your family, or to your church family. Come back to the truth itself. And come back to a Person—the Good Shepherd who searches for, runs to, fights for, redeemed, died for, and loves you.

Welcome home, wanderer.


Journal 

  • Every sheep has wandered from the fold. Describe your wandering, whether it was decades ago or yesterday.
  • Why must God’s children acknowledge their tendency to wander? Why is the gospel only satisfying to those who know their sin?

Pray
Father in Heaven, I echo the words of Robinson’s hymn: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, / Prone to leave the God I love; / Take my heart, O take and seal it, / Seal it for thy courts above.” Forgive me for wandering, God. On my own I am helpless, lost, and self-destructive. But You are the Good Shepherd. Thank You for laying down Your life for me. Thank You for the good news of the gospel, the only salve for my sin-singed soul. In the name of the Savior, I pray, amen.


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