Editor’s note: Newly-commissioned missioner, Joleen Johnson, shares some insight with societal connotations with wandering and getting lost as part of FMS’ Advent blog series.
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
This quote, as recited in Lord of the Rings, brings to light a distinction between those who wander and those who are lost. I think the difference is that those who wander do not have a set destination where they want to arrive. Those who are lost, on the other hand, know where their destination is and are striving to get there, but are lost along the journey. It’s all about knowing where you’re going.
Is wandering a good or bad thing? Is it a waste of time? Wandering without a destination in mind can be freeing, like a retreat of sorts; an opportunity to slow down and be curious and embrace things we might not see when we are so focused on getting from point A to point B. Maybe there are times in our lives when we are called to wander. Remember how God’s people wandered in the desert for 40 years? This wandering was God-ordained. God led them into the wilderness, and He had a plan for their wandering.
The beautiful thing is that the same God who busted His people out of slavery, led them to wander for 40 years, and gave them the Promised Land, where they could rest and finally establish their new normal, is the same God who guides our wandering today. Perhaps some days we feel the heavy weight of these “uncertain times”. Perhaps we feel like we are wandering, like we don’t know where we are going or where our destination is anymore. Perhaps we feel like most aspects of our lives have been overturned by a pandemic, and where we thought we were going, now has to be paused, or maybe it will look drastically different compared to original plans. Perhaps we don’t know when we will get back to “normal”, or how long it will take– exactly how long we will be wandering, not able to easily plan our next move, or our route to the new destination.
Surely, the LORD, your God, has blessed you in all your undertakings; he has been concerned* about your journey through this vast wilderness. It is now forty years that the LORD, your God, has been with you, and you have lacked nothing. Deuteronomy 2:7
The good news is that God is still in control, and God is still with us in our wandering (Deuteronomy 2:7). God, as our lighthouse, will bring us to safety, peace, and rest in His timing, just like He did with His people thousands of years ago. We won’t wander forever, but we will eventually see God’s plan for our lives and our overall journey. May we wander well and may our souls pray, as in the old hymn, Lord, “bind my wandering heart to Thee”.
Reflection Question: How can we wander well today?