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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

A Word from James: Wander

by Marilynn Chadwick

My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth... (James 5:19 NIV)

Does your mind ever wander? Mine does. I sometimes need reminders to stay alert—especially when it comes to listening to God. Too many voices clamor for my attention. Human nature can be weak and unpredictable.

Eighteenth century hymn writer, Robert Robinson, must have felt the same way when he wrote this line from the great hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing:

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love...”

In our journey through James, we've seen a glimpse into his heart. In five short chapters, he has given us a how-to manual for Christian living. And like any good coach, James encourages us to develop a powerful and vibrant faith that can withstand the storms of life.

James longs to see a strong community of sturdy believers. He warns us about things like selfish ambition, prayerlessness, and materialism that distract and divide us. James gives one final caution—a sober warning about wandering away from the truth. The Greek word translated wander means "to be deceived or deluded." It is related to words such as error and deception.

“My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (James 5:19,20).

Do you see the connection here between wandering and believing a lie? A wanderer has been deceived by some error. False teaching and the love of money are among the many causes of wandering, according to James. But behind these and all other lies lurks the devil—the father of lies.

Wandering is the path of least resistance. As I used to tell my kids, the path of least resistance will eventually become the hardest hill you'll ever climb. Shiny decoys and alluring lies have always enticed us humans to wander. Why should the devil try any new tricks when his old ones work so well?

Lord, let these lines from Robert Robinson’s hymn become our fervent prayer. Guard us against wandering: "O to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the one I love; here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above."

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