Correction does much, but encouragement does more. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
We were practicing some songs for church services. I stood in the sound booth forwarding the slides while everyone else sat in the front of the church learning their parts. Rain started falling hard, so we finished with one last song appropriately titled Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.
It’s a familiar old hymn. I knew my part and sang with abandon alone in the booth.
Come, Thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace,
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Voices in the front of the church drifted back to me while a torrent pounded on the roof above. I stood, still advancing slides, and lifted my face toward God. Then came the verse . . .
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
Tears sprang to my eyes as I thought of a dear, dear friend who is wandering right now. Then the tears spilled over as I realized I am just as easily prone to wander. The showers outside were nothing compared to the dam that spilled over in the sound booth.
Robert Robinson penned those words back in 1757 not knowing that one day he would leave his Lord and Savior. Or maybe he did know. Why else would he write “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it”? Though he did wander from God, late in life he returned. He had known his true self.
For weeks I kept singing that song, always meditating on that phrase “prone to wander.” Finally, during my morning quiet time I got out a church hymnal determined to sing through the whole song. I held the last note and then in surprise realized I hadn’t sung the line that was haunting me.
I looked back through the verses . . . No prone to wander.
The song had been “cleaned up.” Instead, “Never let me wander from Thee, never leave the God I love.” Good words, good thoughts, but not the stark truth of a heart that knows itself. The strength of the truth doesn’t ring out . . . It’s the difference of being soiled or being filthy, of an unkempt house verses a pig sty.
That song has haunted me for well over a month now. Last week started out rough, and went on to include the kitchen ceiling falling. Yep. Just falling. Like dust and insulation and heavy rock plaster knocking dents in my walls, floor, refrigerator, and furniture.
Then, Matt’s face swelled and his temperature rose as an abscessed tooth attacked him. Monday morning I called the home insurance again, only to be told again that the house damage is not covered. We headed to the dentist in the afternoon not knowing what would happen.
We spent hours in the office to be given a prescription for antibiotic that the pharmacist couldn’t fill. By then the dentist’s office was closed, so no antibiotic. We headed to dinner, seeing as it was Matt’s birthday. Matt and Jonathan, both sick, picked at their meals and we left. I pulled into the driveway and parked. One of my roosters had been attacked and now lay dead in the field.
I went to the mailbox, looked at an envelope, and opened it. A letter from Amos’s school explaining that he can’t register for classes for next semester until I get some more paperwork to them . . . Paperwork they already have received at least twice.
I walked to the porch and unleashed the dog to go in the house. Instead of running to his dog dish, he turned and ran off the porch into the wide, wide world. I threw my purse and the mail on the porch while a piece of nastiness flew out of my mouth.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.
Church, that verse is in there for a reason. We must be transparent with each other. You can spend a week in meditation, reflection, and prayer. You can come out of it strong and encouraged, and you can be hit long and hard, shocked and awed in quick succession with Satan’s flaming arrows . . . and off you wander like a dog going after the neighbor in heat.
I do plead with God: Never let me wander from Thee, Never leave the God I love. But God knows the truth. He knows the times I turn tail and run. He knows my tendencies, my inward thoughts, my weaknesses.
So, Lord, I ask you to move me past my proclivity to wander. Let me finish like Robert Robinson’s verse:
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
And may the church be there in my transparency to encourage me and make me strong again.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up . . .” 1 Thessalonians 5:11a NIV