I claim to follow Christ, which is something empirical purists would argue. Following is active, merely listening is passive, and very often I find that I am no longer following Christ but merely listening to Him.
It is at those times that I find that God’s efforts to move me on are diametrically opposed to my own efforts to settle down, and His efforts are as relentless as His grace.
It is an act of discipline on His part and of submission on mine to make me into a follower again.
I don’t expect, anymore, that this process will end in this lifetime, because He keeps leading me places that are more unexpected than the last, and because my appetite for sitting never seems to diminish.
What got me thinking in this direction was a Tolkien quote sent to me by a good friend.
How can one not be encouraged by Tolkien? He pours cup-fulls of encouragement in his stories like a good hostess pours cup-fulls of tea.
“Strength,” my friend told me … “Not all those who wander are lost.“
I’d like to unpack that thought for a moment.
Not all those who wander are lost, but more importantly most who are lost do not wander.
This is a frighting thought but it is true when one thinks of it. I suspect that life has come to be, through it’s various manipulations, more like a gilded cage than a well worn path, more like a cozy trap than an adventure. Far from the cry that nature is raw in tooth and claw, it seems that human nature is soft in stomach and bum.
Sadly most people do not die by seeking meaning, they die by comfort.
OK, but some who wander are indeed lost (speaking of bums). And lost wanders are, to many, the scariest kinds of people. The smelly, passive-aggressive, utterly unpredictable people who wander across our paths occasionally. Now if we are not wanderers we only cross paths by their adventure, and if we both are lost at least these wanders have the courage to admit it, if not the strength to change it!
In fact they are not quite as unpredictable as we think at first. Certainly from their point of view it is us, ‘settled’ people, who are unpredictable. We are set in our strange individual ways like jello made out of bizarre molds. We don’t just criticize these wanderers, we reject them;
it is us who are scary to the wanderer.
These wandering hobos, life’s true cynics, are not the scary people. They are only scary to us because it is us who on the brink of unaware lostness.
Scary people are those sweet smelling, well adjusted, settled down ones who are so lost they don’t even remember getting lost. Those who are more concerned with their hair than with their destiny. Now that, my friends, is scary!
So we may say that not all those who wander are lost, but also most who are lost do not wander and some who wander are nonetheless lost.
We have then an unexpected outcome. The lost wanderers and the un-lost wanders have the unsettling nature of looking somewhat similar.
A ragged band of wanders against the backdrop of human urban, but some are lost and some are not.
It it imperative that we know the difference between these two, and take both inspiration and action of the wanderers who are not lost. The inspiration is not enough, action is required; however small the action. Giving away set of clothing may set you on a path that will turn your world upside-down, and turn you into one of the wandering un-lost.
I think it’s time, my friends, that we ditched the notion that it is God’s desire to sort out all of your stuff. It is simply not true; God is not trying to reduce your concerns, solve your problems or settle you down!
If anything He’s doing the opposite, and may I just say that if He is not upsetting your apple carts on a regular basis then what evidence do you have that He has any dealings with you at all?
We have a poor definition of what it means to be lost, respectability has nothing to do with not being lost, and being un-lost has got to be the most disturbing place to exist. It comes with stone pillows, heartbreaking knowledge, an enormous lack of what you used to think was provision; and many other people’s baggage, not just your own.
Hebrews 11 describes the life of the un-lost wanderer well:
” 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37 They were stoned; they were sawn in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and ill-treated– 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
Don’t be scared to find yourself among the wanderers; because true seekers are not looking to find, but to be found.
We are left with one group whom we have not yet discussed, those who do not wander but are also not lost. Now that is indeed a tiny group of our population. So tiny we might find that if they were camels they may even fit through the eye of a needle.