Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

Wandering in the DesertIt’s  been quiet around the blog lately… I’ve been thinking… wondering… considering my life… my direction… my motives… and wandering a bit.  If you are anything like me, life can feel complicated and overwhelming at times. And so it feels easier to reduce life down to things I feel I can control… “productivity”, “activity”, “moving forward”, these are the signs of an “effective” life. Or so our culture would have us believe. And, I have to admit, I get sucked in by it… I even find myself feeling guilty for any prolonged periods of downtime. It starts to feel like a waste of time. And don’t get me wrong, I know there are plenty of times that we need to be productive and active and effective. We have jobs that need to get done. But, when I consider the deeper things of life, these words (productive, active, effective, etc) seem to lose their power over me. I somehow can’t picture Jesus using words like these. I mean, can you picture Jesus saying, “Hi, how’s your productivity looking? Meeting your quotas? You need to be proactive and grab that bull by the horns…” Ick!  Consider J.R.R.Tolkien’s words:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;

In the greater scheme of things we must begin to move away from our activity-centric mindsets and create some space to allow God to speak.  And this is what my last few weeks have been like. Not intentionally, I admit. But, nonetheless this is how they are unfolding. It’s like when you go to a rock concert and you leave with your ears ringing for days. Little by little, without any effort other than staying away from more loud music, you begin to hear clearly again.  That’s why I think this pause in my busyness is good for me. I’m starting to see it not so much as hopeless, unproductive mystery, but I’m starting to realize I need time to let the ringing in my ears to stop.

My wife was praying for me today. (And I could write a whole blog on the effect of this alone, a spouse praying.) And after praying, she encouraged me with these words, “Lean not on your own understanding…“.  The whole verse she gave me  is actually this:

Prov 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way   (Good News Translation)

See, the problem with an activity-centric mindset is that it becomes too important to keep the momentum going. When we’re not hearing God as clearly as we’re used to, when we don’t have a strong sense of  direction and purpose, we tend to generate “activity”. We try to make things happen. It is just so easy to fall into. We treat life like a bicycle ride… we try so hard to keep the bike moving, keep the momentum up, so we don’t fall over.  Great for a bike ride… not so great for a relationship with God. And that is why this verse so impacted me.

In my downtime, in the quiet, in this time when my sense of direction and purpose seems to be coasting, I began to “rely on what I think I know”. I begin to sort through my thoughts, like figuring a math problem, because I don’t understand where I am in my journey at this moment. I try to make sense of my life based on what I think I know. And when I say “think I know” it really just ends up being lots of “if this is true, then that must be true“… “if that is true, then this must be true.”  On the surface it appears logical and thorough and wise, but it is really just fear and faithlessness and doubt masquerading as contemplation and wisdom.  Prov 3  stopped me dead in my tracks.

Prov 3 gave me structure and clarity, not of my location on the bike path of life, but it gave me clarity that God knows where I am…. that God is using this pause and he is using a little mystery. He’s in this with me. In fact, I don’t know the future, but I can trust Him to guide me as I pedal along. And you know, I’m good with that. It’s hard to ride this path when I feel alone, but it feels much better when I know He has a plan.

What about you.  Where are you resisting some quiet time? What areas in your life do you feel the pressure to pedal harder?… like you can’t coast a bit or park the bike for a little while without feeling like the bike will fall over?  What would it look like for you to “Trust in the Lord” and not rely on what you think you know?

With my bike leaning against a tree… I’m enjoying the smell of the flowers along this sometimes foggy path. Join me?

Mark

2 thoughts on “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

  1. I’m glad God has ways of disarming my activities. I’m glad he’s not the taskmaster and goalmaster that I am toward myself. If I am to listen to Paul’s advice to “run the race to get the prize” with Jesus walking beside, it may sound more like, “Any one who is tired and exhausted should come close to me, and I will give him rest.”

    I’ve noticed that the most enjoyable activities were always the most relaxing as well – when I did them with rest in mind.

    1. Hi Jeff,
      I’m glad to hear it. Sounds like God has been patient with you. Keep allowing Him to rub off on you. As you journey on maybe you’ll be able to become less and less your own “taskmaster”. Relax and enjoy the journey.

      Mark

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