Prone To Wander
"And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot (know) not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Exodus 32:1-4
There have been many times in my life when I drew near to God only to wander away. I think of the song, Come Thou Fount, and its lyrics, “Prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love”. It was never my heart's desire to stray from my God, but at various times in my life I wandered away like the prodigal son. I traded in the robe of a treasured child for the husks of the swine, and I consumed my fill of sin but was never satisfied. I left the mountaintop and wandered down into the valley of sin. Sin is always a downward trajectory, and if we are not careful, we will find ourselves deep down in the valley.
In the summer of 1994, things were changing in my life. Not all changing for the good, but things were definitely changing. I graduated from high school with no real life objective, and I found myself drifting away from God more than I had ever done before. Our family was moving to Chicago in the late fall, and I attended a whole week of Christian camp that summer without making one decision for God. I did not give God much thought, even though the previous summer I had rededicated my life to Christ. Looking back, I hardly recognized the person I had become. In the summer of 1993, I spent three weeks at camp and God worked in my life, and I experienced a real closeness with Him. I walked with Him daily and spoke to Him as if I could see Him with my physical eyes. I prayed to Him in all things and for all things. I lost most of my friends, but I did not care as I sought to please God and no one else. My friends thought it was a fad (which sadly it turned out to be), but initially, it was never my intent or my goal. God had my heart the summer of 1993, but by the following summer, I had allowed the world to get its grip on me and it would not let go.
Looking back now, I wish I would have done things differently as I was not happy and joyous, but rather a miserable wreck. Sin was taking its toll on me and 1994 started with me getting expelled from school and ended with me moving to Chicago. I left my friends and those who were closest to me, but I failed to realize that I had also left my God. I wallowed in discontentment and I was angry and filled with pride. I did not have praise on my lips but I sought to complain about anything and everything. I am not sure how my family put up with me, but I imagine I was a daily sanctification test. How did so much change from one year to the next? How did I allow myself to draw close to God, and then give all that up for the quickly-fading pleasures of this world? The truth is, I made and set up gods in my life which brought me no satisfaction, and I foolishly forgot about the true God. The true God exposed my sin, while the gods I created brought me short moments of distraction and pleasure which fizzed away like a firecracker on the Fourth of July.
I compare myself to the children of Israel and think how far and how quickly they had fallen. I am not sure of the time frame, but in the previous chapter, they were just given the Ten Commandments as Exodus 31:18 tells us, "And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing (speaking) with him upon mount Sinai, two tables (tablets) of testimony, tables (tablets) of stone, written with the finger of God." The people had the Ten Commandments written by the hand of God, in which the first two gave clear instructions about other gods. It did not take them long to forget about the true God and soon they were making their own god out of gold. They acted like they did not know where God had gone, even though they had seen firsthand God do great and mighty things in their life. I shake my head at their logic, but I must not forget the firsthand things I had experienced in my own life but yet I acted like God disappeared, and I did not know where to look or how to find Him. I was foolish in my thinking and logic much like the children of Israel were when Aaron created the golden calf for them to worship instead of God.
Where are you today friend? What “golden calf” have you created in your own life that takes the place of God? Have you wondered away from God? Have you forgotten the words He has written on your heart? Have you forgotten the promises you have made to Him? God desires a right relationship with you. Will you turn from your golden calf to the true God? May we not forget who brought us up out of the land of bondage and sin, and may we stay close to Him to keep us from our proneness to wander.
Stay in the fight!