We sometimes find ourselves moving from place to place, relationship to relationship, without any fixed plan. We are just meandering along, kind of oblivious to the results of some of the things we might involve ourselves in, or the influence of the people we might choose to hang out with. We might call this a state of "wandering". One thing I have learned: Wander long enough and you will spend a whole lot of time at the end wondering what got your where you are today! Wandering and wondering go hand-in-hand. You speculate about things - how they could have been, what you could have done differently. Oftentimes, we end our time of wandering with our wondering, filled with all kinds of regrets. Regrets for the lost time, the lost relationships, and maybe even more significant things like the loss of reputation.
Some of you wandered for years in the desert, looking but not finding a good place to live, half-starved and parched with thirst, staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion. Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God. He got you out in the nick of time; He put your feet on a wonderful road that took you straight to a good place to live. So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves. He poured great draughts of water down parched throats; the starved and hungry got plenty to eat. (Psalm 107:4-9 MSG)
Our psalmist starts out this psalm with the following: Oh, thank God—he’s so good! His love never runs out. All of you set free by God, tell the world! Tell how he freed you from oppression, then rounded you up from all over the place, from the four winds, from the seven seas. (vs. 1-3 MSG) All set free - suggests wandering leaves us a little "bound" by the places we have been and the things we might have experienced in the midst of our aimlessness. Freed from oppression - suggests wandering often leads to us experiencing things which are cruel and unjust. Rounded you up - suggests we did not just stumble into God's grace, but we are purposefully brought out of a place of wandering (aimlessness) into a place of rest and safety (purposefulness).
Look at what he says next. Wandering is a condition or state of looking but not finding. It is kind of like spending a whole lot of time going shopping without any real reason - no specific purchase in mind. You aimlessly gaze through the racks, explore the stacks and sometimes might try on some of the stuff, but it is all without any real purpose. When you need some new socks in black, blue and grey, you are heading to the store with a purpose in mind. If you find them, you are delighted. If you don't, you move on to the next place until you do - because you have a purpose in what you are doing. Living without purpose is kind of like wandering. We often don't realize the desperateness of our condition of heart and mind until we spend a little time "looking but not finding".
No one can define our period or season of "wandering" for us. Wandering is a matter of the heart - reflected in the choices we make. It could be a slight "blip" in time, or a prolonged period. Those who spend a great deal of time "wandering" (looking but not finding) often experience the sense of desperation, hunger and intense thirst for something which will truly satisfy the longings of the heart. Our psalmist does a nice job of pointing out where the condition of wandering leaves us: 1) half-starved, 2) parched with thirst, 3) staggering and stumbling, and 4) on the brink of exhaustion. When our minds and hearts are searching, but not really focused in their search, or in union in their search, we often experience these conditions, don't we?
- Half-starved: Not totally without something which satisfies, but a dry crust of bread to a starving man is as good as a filet mignon, is it not? We often "settle" for something when we think we will never find anything, huh? We reason something is better than nothing. I wonder how many "somethings" we have taken in only to find it still leaves us "half-starved"?
- Parched with thirst: Being aimless "dries us up". We get "crusty", don't we? Kind of like we just dry up because we have been exposed to stuff and people which never really did more than take from us without giving anything back in return. It is like the events and people just sucked out the thing we need for life.
- Staggering and stumbling: Ever been so hungry and so dry from thirst you find yourself unable to almost stand up? I live in the desert and sometimes find myself pushing myself to do stuff in the heat of the day. Do this long enough without taking the necessary steps to re-hydrate and you find yourself weak, unbalanced, and light-headed. Your body cannot endure this state long. Guess what? Our spirit and our heart cannot endure the extremes of hunger and thirst for very long either!
- On the brink of exhaustion: Wandering without purpose "consumes" what we would otherwise need, but without any real benefit or positive result for us. In the end, we are left "consumed" by the events, people, and failures. Exhausted!
Thank goodness it does not end there! In our "calling out", he hears and responds. If all we do at the end of our wandering is spend time wondering over the "what could have been", we will never call out for the "what can be now"! When we call out, God is quick to respond. He takes care of what truly feeds our souls, pours in what truly refreshes our spirit and heals our hearts. Then he sets us on our feet again - stronger than before. Some call this a miracle - I call it grace!
Turn your wanderings and wonderings into a moment for God's grace - simply by calling out!