Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

I’m a wanderer.
I feel like I’m wandering in my own personal desert. Walking in circles. Retracing my steps. But never getting anywhere.

I wander in my home. I had all the laundry caught up a few days ago. And I get to do it all over again today. I fixed supper last night. And I get to do it all over again today.

I wander as a mother. Didn’t I just address this attitude issue? How many times am I going to eye my children with that universal look that says, “You’d better say thank you or you’ll never taste another piece of candy?” How many diapers will I change before I suffer from permanent olfactory nerve damage?

I wander in my writing. I’ve written a book. Did you know that? I have. A whole novel. I didn’t know it at the time, but writing that novel sent me wandering into the dark forests of publication. It’s fun. Except for when it’s not. Like when you realize that all the writing you’ve done for the past six months will never see the light of day.

I don’t like to wander.

I have plans and dreams and it frustrates aggravates drives me insane when things don’t happen the way I think they should. Wandering feels like such a waste—of time, energy, and resources.

It feels like I’ve dropped the ball. It feels like I’m lost.

But “not all those who wander are lost.”

Take Joseph. In Genesis, he’s dreamed some big dreams. And he’s got plans. So when his father sends him in search of his brothers, he sets off with purpose. He knows where he’s going. He’s going to Shechem.

But his brothers aren’t there and Joseph wanders around in a field for a while before someone tells him they are in Dothan. (I am not making this up—you can read it for yourself in Genesis).

It’s a tiny detail. The kind of thing an editor might cut from the story. But God left it in.

He left in the part about the wandering.

You know the rest of the story, don’t you? When Joseph found his brothers, they decided to kill him—and they would have if his big brother hadn’t convinced them to throw him in a pit instead. And then, some Midianite traders show up and Joseph is sold as a slave in Egypt which turns out to be a crucial point in God’s redemptive plan for His children.

What are the odds of those Midianite traders showing up at that exact moment? And what if Joseph hadn’t wandered around for a while before heading out to Dothan?

That wandering? It saved Joseph’s life. And it saved the children of Israel.

Joseph may have been wandering, but he most certainly was never lost.

Sometimes God gives us big dreams…big plans…big hopes for the future. And then He lets us wander around for a while.

Not because He’s mean. But because He’s maneuvering all the pieces into position so He can do something even bigger than what we could imagine.

If you’re wandering, don’t despair, don’t panic, and most definitely do not give up. Who knows? Someday when the story of your life is written, this little "wandering" detail may be the one no editor would dare to cut.

I am indebted to the Bible study we are currently doing at Southside Fellowship, Read the Bible for Life, where the beauty of this part of the story was highlighted.

And in case you are unfamiliar with it, the quote is from The Fellowship of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien...

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renewed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.”


Susie said...

Wow, I never gave a second thought to that bit about Joseph wandering around before going to Dothan. Hopeful that my current wanderings will come to be a very important time in my life.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This was the nudge I needed to both identify the feeling that had been squelching my joy, and drew me into a blessed time of conversing with the Father. Blessings. Tina Hunt

Vonda Skelton said...

Great post, Lynn! I'm a wanderer, too...but it's usually because my mind just jumps from thing to thing I need to do. I must do a better job of staying focused on what He has for me to do.

Thanks for the reminder that wandering isn't necessarily bad, but I need to be sure I'm wandering in the direction God has for me. :-)

Lynn Huggins Blackburn said...

Mom - I hadn't either! I'm sure God doesn't let us wander without having an important reason!
Tina - Your words are humbling. My goal is always to point people to their Father. Thanks for sharing with us!
Vonda - You are so right. And maybe a mind reader? Next week's post will touch on the difference between good wandering and, er, not so good wandering :-).