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, 1758
Opening my journal I see words scrolled across the page like threads sewn tightly in a desperate attempt to mend, and they pull at the fray of my wandering heart.
Today I stole a few moments of quiet to read and commune with God. It felt like I was saying to the Lord, “I’ve missed you,” the way I did with my dear friend this week when we finally got together over coffee.
You can have a friend for only a short time and know she is a kindred soul, a connection that runs deep in the marrow. A friend can be family, the way a name runs through blood lines and it’s written into you.
I think about that, how blood has connected me to my own family, and how the blood of the Lamb has joined me with a new family, not born of my flesh but born of God’s spirit; how the blood of our kinsman redeemer was spilled upon a rock, and by that shed blood we are all related, we who believe on his name.
My God and savior restores unto me a rightful place in his kingdom family, and each time I come before the cross I am in the presence of family. So when we are apart, it is not because we have been severed, but it’s likely I’ve drifted for a time.
The doing of life can be a thing that pulls away at the fabric of my faith and the ties that bind my heart to Thee. Until I hear you gently calling me back, “Martha…you are worried and distracted over much. Only one thing is needed.”
I hear you, and I come. Sitting with you here, the words roll off my lips, “I’ve missed you,” but it was never you who had gone away. Your eyes, they look familiar…welcoming, and I wonder where I’ve been. I am Lucy within the wardrobe. Have I been away for so long?
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord I am coming!” PSALM 27:8
I think, too, of our dear Much Afraid, how the Shepherd called her out of the Fearing village, and how bravely she stepped out upon the path when she heard his voice. But there was a time when the Shepherd, after giving her directions, went away for a while. Then the tempters came and they whispered in her ears. The words of the Shepherd fell dim. Still she went on with one thing in mind, “He has called me to the high places.”
Have you ever gone through a time in your faith when you felt like God was far away? Maybe you’ve been walking with Jesus for a while and things have begun to feel familiar, like that favorite sweater you put on when you leave the house. But then a tiny thread gets pulled and the thing gets a hole in it, and pretty soon the whole sweater comes undone.
There are times like this, when we get comfortable in what we know. We go on as we always have, until trials come and our faith is tested. Everything you ever thought you knew begins to unravel until you’re left completely undone, and you wonder where God went. You may wonder where you belong and may even question who you are.
The good news is that we have a Shepherd, Jesus, who does not leave us to wander in the desert too long or let us get too far adrift at sea. Rather he seems to use these times to teach our hearts how small we are without him and how we must rely on his word and his presence to help us.
In Genesis 12 we see Abram, friend of God, had received the land of promise and an eternal inheritance.
He moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. GENESIS 12:8 NKJV
But then, Abram moved away from the place where he had worshiped the Lord. He went to a new place of worldly prosperity, but it did not fulfill the covenant he had made with God. So we read on in Genesis 13 that Abram returned. He went back to the place where he knew the presence of God.
…and they pitched their tents between Bethel and Ai, where they had camped before. This was the same place where Abram had built the altar, and there he worshiped the Lord again. GENESIS 13:4 NLT
Oswald Chambers describes,
Bethel is a symbol of fellowship with God; Ai is a symbol of the World. Abram ‘pitched his tent’ between the two…We must ‘pitch our tents’ where we will always have quiet times with Him, however noisy our times with the world may be.
It is so important to take time to be alone with the Lord, to steal those quiet moments of prayer, to read the Bible and connect with God through his word. This is how we return to that place of intimacy with the Lord. We daily renew our hearts with him, to be restored unto his presence, and revive our souls to worship him again.