Reflections: Wandering

Published in www.convergemagazine.com

“Like a bird that wanders from its nest is a person who wanders from his place” – Proverbs 27:8

I remember my first time witnessing a sparrow hit a window. As the little thing lay lifeless on the ground outside grandpa’s office, it was unbelievable to think that life had departed so instantaneously. Leaving the nest is dangerous, but it’s a necessary process. A bird that never leaves the nest will never learn to fly – foregoing the quintessential characteristic of their species.

Like birds, we all have our nests; a familiar place, tangible or intangible, which we have constructed. We also wander from those nests, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. There are times of distress that force us to pack up and search for something more profitable. In Hebrew history, Jacob’s sons went down to Egypt to escape famine. David, while crown prince, was forced to flee the palace and live as a fugitive. Ruth and Naomi were left widows and had to return to Naomi’s old country.

Wisdom separates these sorts of wanderers from those who simply seek greener grass and are never satisfied. Today’s unprecedented mobility offers both opportunity and disaster. Unbridled experimentation becomes perpetual promiscuity, and I’m not just talking about sex. Unsure of what we seek, we wander, looking with blinded eyes for something that will satisfy. Promiscuity is easy, has moments of exhilaration, but is ultimately unsatisfying.

Our lives are filled with longing for better days. “In this life, you will have trouble”, Jesus says, “but fear not, I have overcome the world”. His challenge was whether you believe God is with you. If you do, your actions will reflect your belief that he is able to make good out of evil, see you through, and finish the work he began in you.

We don’t want to look back over our life and see what could have been if we had only stayed the course. “We feel that under other skies, we would succeed”, C.H. Spurgeon observes. “I may know something about my weakness in the present trial but I cannot know how I might stagger under another. Be wary of changing your trials. To exchange one trial for another is all the relief you will get.”

Not all who wander are lost. Nevertheless, be careful how and why you wander.

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