Robert Robinson was a Pastor in England from 1759 till his death in 1790. Most likely, you have not heard of him but I bet you know one of the two hymns he wrote: “Come thou fount of every blessing.” Pastor Robinson got it right with that great hymn of the faith. There are a couple of lines in that hymn that speak volumes about a daily challenge for all believers, including us preacher types. “Oh to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be. Let thy goodness like a fetter; bind my wandering heart to thee. 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.” Surely Pastor Robinson didn’t have that kind of issue in his life! Surely Pastor Ralph doesn’t struggle with what I’m struggling with! People may think that they are the only ones who have that struggle in their lives but the reality is, we are all prone to wander and drift away from God. It’s much like being out on a boat in the Chesapeake and you want to fish or swim so you throw an anchor overboard to hold the boat in place – there’s just one problem, the anchor didn’t get firmly connected to the bottom and before long, you realize you’ve drifted away or worse, you look up to find your boat is floating away while you enjoy a swim!
What I’ve noticed is that the more pressure and stress I’m under, whether personally, some issue in family or finances, or professionally in church life, the more quickly I’m prone to wander and drift away from God! Make no mistake about it either, God is not the one who has moved on, it is me who has left Him. I fully understand Pastor Robinson’s poignant words because he’s describing a need we all have to be tethered to the Lord in intimate fellowship. That tether or anchor has several components and strands of the rope. One is your personal quiet time of Bible study and prayer. It is vital everyday to keep you connected. Corporate worship is another strand as we gather in worship with soul stirring songs that prepare us to hear the Word of God preached. One of the things I have to ensure I do is to listen to sermons regularly so I feed my spirit also. You might be surprised at how hard that actually is for a pastor to do because we’re laboring so much on what we’re preaching; it is hard to take time to listen to someone else. Another critical strand in that rope to keep us from wandering is personal accountability to a small group and beyond that to an accountability partner. I have men who have complete permission to ask me whatever they want and I communicate with and meet with these men often.
In spite of all that, I know in my spirit I’m still prone to wander! It’s frustrating for sure but I’m in good company. Paul wrote about this struggle extensively in Romans 7 making a point about how the law of God points out our need for the grace of God. The short summary of Paul’s struggle is found in vs. 19 and I paraphrase: “The good that I want to do, I do not do; yet the evil I don’t want to do and what I hate, that’s what I do!” WOW! I find encouragement in that the great Apostle Paul was not that much different than I am in regard to that inward struggle to keep from wandering from God. Happily, there is a solution as it means we have to stay close to God. When you’re out on boat in the middle of the bay and you realize you’re drifting, you take immediate action. When you sense you’re drifting in your spirit from God, you better take immediate corrective action. You also need to heed the Holy Spirit’s promptings in your heart that you’re off course and you need to correct it.
This fall, let me encourage you men to come to the men’s Bible Study we’ll be doing on Tuesday nights at church beginning Oct. 11th. There is information about this study being promoted in the Way and your weekend bulletins. Ladies, the women’s ministry has a couple of choices for you to get plugged in to I believe during the day and one in the evening also. These studies are practical and help you with the real issues of life. Our regular adult Bible Study classes on Sunday mornings are working through the Book of Romans. Don’t miss this rich study through one of the greatest books God inspired Paul to write.
While we’re prone to wander, it doesn't have to happen if you’ll constantly check to make sure that you’re anchored to Christ. That anchor holds no matter how much pressure you’re under. So here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it, bind my wandering heart to thee! I want to encourage you to stay connected to Jesus and I’m confident He’ll keep you from wandering. Something to think about, from my little corner of the world to yours…Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church www.calvarybelair.com