August 12, 2011

This Wandering Heart

Falling back.

It’s our inclination. Our human nature. Our inner compass. We set out to follow God, but we get distracted, complacent or seduced by something else. We follow our whims and desires. And travel in a different direction. Isaiah wrote about this heart condition: “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. “ (53:6)

Again and again we trade in God’s plan for our own. It makes being a Christian darn hard work. Impossible work it seems sometimes.

In our prison ministry backsliding is a common theme. Several of the inmates gave powerful testimonies this week in the church service. One inmate told how he’d been actively involved with a prison ministry, coming in every week (like our group does). Through tear-filled eyes he shared how he’d “fallen away” a few months ago and done things that landed him in prison. Now he was the one being ministered to. Humbled and broken, he still trusted God’s plan for His life. He encouraged the men, especially those getting out soon, to stick closely with Jesus.  

“It’s so easy to stray,” he cautioned.  

His words touched us all. And they got me thinking.

So many of the inmates love the Lord and want to start a new life with Christ. But their home environments are filled with drugs, violence, gangs, crime and broken families. When (or if) they get out, the cards are so stacked against them to become productive, law-abiding citizens, let alone faithful followers of Jesus.

When they return home it’s so easy to wander back into their old lives and habits. The consequences of doing so are likely harsh and dramatic—putting many right back in prison.

In my own life it’s so easy to stray as well.

So often I choose my own way instead of God’s. I squander my gifts. I get lazy about prayer, Bible study and devotions. I get distracted and neglect God.  And more than anything else, I let the ebb and flow of life lure me into complacency, busyness and comfort. 

Certainly my prediliction to wander isn't a bad as the inmate's, right? For starters, I probably won't end up in prison. 

Yet, in God's eyes, isn't the end result the same? Haven't we both made the same choice: our own way over God's? Aren't we both left with parched souls and hearts far from the Lord?

Doesn’t my backsliding grieve God just as much as the prisoners’? In fact, might it grieve Him more? After all He has given me every good gift to succeed: education, money, a loving family, security, opportunity, freedom. The odds are stacked in my favor.

But I know even these blessings aren't enough to stay the course.  

Thankfully God knows the fatal condition of our wandering hearts and gave us the cure—Jesus.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.“ (Isaiah 53:5-6)

Sinner, saint and soccer mom. We are all sinners saved by grace.Not one of us can stay true to God’s path on our own. To each of us, Jesus invites, “Come to me.”

And come we must.

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing: verse 4
O 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, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

It doesn't take long for the "influences" around us to creep back into our lives and push us back to prison. And while my prison may not resemble steel bars and lock down, there are quieter, less noticeable cells that surround our hearts when I am unwilling to live free from the sin and bondage that so easily entangles.

Tell our brother I'm praying for him.


Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, how my spirit rejoiced as I ready the scripture you shared from Isaiah 53. What a Savior we have!


What would we do without Jesus? said...

Great post and a great reminder that straying is so easy. Thanks for the verse in Isaiah -

Julie Gillies said...

Oh my goodness, Kelli, I was just singing this song in the shower this morning! Crazy, huh? It's one of my favorites, because as you pointed out, it's so easy for LIFE to encroach on the sacred space that belongs only to Him. Love this, and I love your post.

Oh, and your new blog design is incredible! I absolutely love it! It's just perfect, and it truly describes you. Because you're NOT so ordinary, and neither are the feats you accomplish through Jesus.

Hugs to you, sweet friend!

Cyndi said...

Just read your blog for the first time. Great post! I used to hate the "prone to wander" lines in that song until life taught me how true they really were. Now they make me so thankful for the abundant grace of Jesus Christ in my life.