The younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country.
If you’re like most of us, you can point to a time in your life when you were closer to God than you are right now. Perhaps you know you ought to read your Bible and pray more, but frankly, you no longer have the desire to do so. You may feel guilty about thinking about money so much and thinking about God so little. Or perhaps you look back to at least one giant mistake and wonder if God can ever forgive you.
For some of us, our departure from God can be traced to a specific event, perhaps a bitter divorce, the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job. But for most of us, our departure from God is gradual. We tend to move away from God step by step, choice by choice, until one day we awaken in a place we never thought we would be, separated from our heavenly Father.
Why do we tend to move away from God? No matter how dramatic our conversion, no matter how sincere our intentions, no matter how saturated we are with biblical doctrine, the bias of life pulls us away from God.
In the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” one of the refrains says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” What does that mean, “Prone to leave the God I love”? I don’t know about you, but I’m not prone to leave what I love. Yet we who profess to love God are prone to go days, week, even months without opening God’s Word. We are prone to destructive habits or relationships that erode our spiritual life. We are prone to renounce everything we believe in at the first hint of suffering. Why is that?
One reason we are prone to wander is that God is invisible to us. When I was five years old, my dad took me to the State Fair of Texas. I remember it well. We were getting ready to enter the midway, and my dad needed to go to the restroom. He said, “Robert, wait out here for me and I’ll be right back.” I stood there for what seemed to be eternity waiting for my dad. But the bells and whistles of the midway were too much for me and I wandered away. Soon I was completely lost. I can remember the terror of that moment, being surrounded by strangers.
Fortunately a police officer found me and put me on his motorcycle with my back facing him. My feet dangled over the back of the motorcycle as he wove in and out of the crowd to take me to the lost-and-found area. In the crowd, I saw my dad frantically looking for me, and his eyes made contact with mine. My dad went into a full gallop chasing after me on that motorcycle. He caught up with me and swept me in his arms and took me home. Why did I wander away from my dad? I couldn’t see him, and so I disobeyed him.
Even though God is invisible to us right now, He has not left us alone. Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). God has not left us as orphans in this world. He has sent us His Holy Spirit to guide us, to comfort us, to lead us into all truth. But let’s be honest: sometimes it’s easy to be attracted to the bells and whistles of this life instead of following the quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit. The fact that we serve an invisible God is one reason we are prone to leave the God we love.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Coming Home to the Father Who Loves You” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.