Sunday, January 23, 2011

Prone To Wander

A devotional by Debra E. Marvin

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.

I had a recurring nightmare when I was younger (no this is not the Anaconda nightmare but a different one). I was in a large room with giant columns and the room was full of things that seemed to be in my way, making it difficult to get to where I wanted to be: safety.

Sometime near the end of those nightmares, when I was probably a pre-teen or teenager, my mother admitted to me that she’d once let me get “lost” in a store, while she watched me, reasoning that this was a good lesson to learn and I would not be so apt to wander again. The setting was a department store basement . . . large columns and crowded racks of clothing. You be the judge.NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 28: a sale sign stands on ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Now, I don’t blame my mother for that. I admit, I think coddling a child can go too far. I tried not to set my children up for disappointment but let them know that life could be unfair, frightening, and difficult. They had to take responsibility for their actions. They had a mom who loved them unconditionally and would stand up for them—but they needed to stand on their own two feet as well. I encouraged them to be curious, caring, independent and to know how to have fun and be a good friend. They turned out okay. I think.

And, yes, I needled my mom for those nightmares and her little ‘lesson’ about wandering.

She tells me I did far less of it after that.

I guess it worked.

Until I got older. Safe in the knowledge that God loved me, but not really too concerned about my actions in return, I did some wandering again. I learned some painful lessons and I scared myself. My Father God the disciplinarian, allowed me to wander. He knew where it would lead and the lessons I’d learn. And eventually, the wandering stopped. Well, mostly.

Now my wanderings are about focus. Now it hurts when I’m praying and find that my mind has wandered to my grocery list, or my bible study time has slipped to thinking about a plot issue in my book. I take some comfort in knowing I’m not alone.

I’m glad I have a Father who knows my desire is not to wander but to draw close.

The first paragraph above is from the beautiful old hymn, Come Now Fount of Every Blessing. If you’d like a reminder, I’ve linked Chris Rice's version here.

Today, my prayer is not new . . . Lord God, draw me in and keep me close.

"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."

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  1. I've had lots of dreams about being stuck in a house. A maze-like house that never ended. Just kept going and going and I couldn't get out. And usually I was either being actively chased or hiding from someone.

    I didn't always hate them though. I found them kind of exciting. A product of my own deplorable taste in sensational literature.

    I'm focusing this year on finding the mind of Christ. It's sure going to take a lot of focus, and I'm like you, disciplining my thoughts is tough! Glad I can expect some a supernatural assist here and there.

  2. My son Jonathan was always wandering off. One time I let him get lost. He never even noticed and I was the one that ended up in a panic. Sigh.

    Still, God's grace is unfathomable.
    Wonderful post, Debra. Bless you.

  3. One of my favorite hymns, Deb. And my favorite line from the hymn, too. Perhaps for the same reason. I, too, am striving to be more focused on Christ and less on the things that try to intrude. Its not easy; sometimes its a downright battle for me. But then one of us posts something like this and it reminds me that I'm not the only one who struggles with this - and that gives me that little extra push I need to persevere.

  4. Lisa - why am I not surprised that you even like mysterious dreams!

    Hi Cheryl. I did have one of my kids get lost in a mall once. Probably the worst 20 minutes of my life. It didn't teach her a thing because she did it a second time but I caught her quicker that time! It taught me to be more paranoid.

    Hey Suzie!
    I tend to get a bit weepy during that song too and that's why I thought of it for a post. Such beautiful words and sentiments!

    (by the way...Hope you are prepared for 'back to school!')

  5. Hey Deb!
    Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. My favorite hymn. Prone to wonder, Lord, I feel it. Probably the line I relate to most from my teens and twenties.
    I used to have a powerful reoccuring nightmare too. In fact, I started a contemporary novel, that remains unfinished yet related the that nightmare. Someday.

  6. Some of my recurring dreams are tidal waves and being back in college. Enjoyed the video.

  7. I love this hymn, Deb. Sang it not too long ago in church and it just sticks with me.

    What a moving post. I don't want to wander from God. Praying we all yearn to stay close to him.

    I lost my son at Disneyland. The worst 20 seconds of my life. It felt like an eternity, and I was about to start screaming for help. (There's a story, perhaps urban legend, about Disney security and how they lock down the park when a child's missing.)

    Recurring bizarre dreams? Other than never attending courses at school and now it's test day, I used to dream that I would fall into the Shamu tank at Sea World, and the orca would nudge me. But I wasn't sure if a bite was going to follow. Or if I'd drown. A-n-x-i-e-t-y!

  8. Hey Jilly!
    It is an awesome song. Beautiful music and the lyrics are incredible, aren't they?

    How funny that the same line touched so many of us. I was going to list them all but.. it got long and I didn't know if anyone would want to read them besides me.

    Thanks for commenting!

  9. Dina- tidal waves? That would be awful! by the way, how far inland are you? (sorry, that's not very nice, is it?) But you know I love you, right?

    Susie-Shamu? Up until last year or so I wouldn't have been concerned. I hope those dreams are over with for good.

    I don't recall the 'unprepared for test' nightmare being a problem for me, but I often have the 'fighting to save my life' ones. I suppose that will come in handy some day in a story.

    May you all have sweet dreams tonight!

  10. Thanks Gina. Hope you're feeling much better very soon. Maybe some spa time at a sulphur spring would help???

  11. Worst dream along these lines: When my youngest was a toddler, I dreamed he was kidnapped from a mall. The urgency I felt to search for him, to try and get someone's attention, was enough to wake me up sobbing. And then the Lord whispered in my heart, "That's how I feel about my lost children." Ouch. That's been more than a decade, and I still remember it like it was yesterday.


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