Prone to Wander
"Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits..." Psalm 103:2 (NIV)
For years, we owned a dog named BC who was the bane of my existence. He definitely earned his nickname—Houdini. He was a long hound with short legs and truly an escape artist of the highest degree.
There was no fence high enough and no enclosure secure enough to keep him contained. BC scaled or dug or jumped or schemed his way to freedom outside our yard on a regular basis.
I think about those days and have to laugh. Because our whole family adored him—despite his wandering heart—we worked and worked to keep him home. We built a fence we believed would protect him from the outside world. My boys played and snuggled with him. BC was fed healthy dog food and yummy snacks. He had balls, toys and a soft dog bed.
And yet he wandered.
BC roamed our neighborhood, and sometimes we got reports of him on streets miles away. He always came home eventually (sometimes pursued by the dog catcher), but our family worried about him when he left the safe haven of home.
How I identify with BC's wandering ways.
These words from my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, pierce my heart each time I hear them:
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. ~Robert Robinson
God has created a place of safety for me within His Word. His commandments are designed to protect me, not restrict me. God gives me the good gifts of His mercy, grace and forgiveness to remind me to stay near. He pours His love on me and draws me deep into His family, and yet ...
Sometimes my heart still wanders.
I ignore His truth and make decisions that launch me outside the safety of His guidelines. I harbor wrong thoughts. I use words that minimize others. These choices and others can take me away from God's heart. And yet He longs to draw me home again.
The opening verses of Psalm 103 provide a key to keep my wandering heart close to God: "Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits ..." (Psalm 103:1-2 NIV).
By praising God and rehearsing His benefits, I train my heart to find contentment close to God rather than far from Him.
When I want to wander, the verses that follow Psalm 103:1-2 list even more reasons to praise and thank God:
"...who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's" (vv. 3-5 NIV).
I spent 14 long years chasing BC around our neighborhood. My love for him kept me pursuing him and finding ways to keep him safe in our yard. God's love is the same toward us. Let's join with the Lord in staying in the protective boundary lines He's given us by praising and rehearsing His faithful ways. Doing so will bind our wandering hearts to God and keep us safe in the nurturing places He's created for you and me.
Lord God, I thank You that You have given us such a long list of benefits for which to praise You. Settle my heart in the safety of Your home with a faithful and content heart. In Jesus' precious Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Do you fill your heart and mind with the benefits of God that keep you close to His heart, or do you constantly allow your heart to wander from God's safety and care?
Read Psalm 103 in its entirety and make a list of the benefits of God you find and rehearse them in your mind today.
Psalm 16:5-6, "LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." (NIV)