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Prone to Wander

"Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" is one of my very favorite hymns. We sang it during Penny's baptism, and I'd happily insert it into every other monumental worship service, from weddings to funerals. It's honest and hopeful and beautiful. I sang it again recently, and I was struck by the lines:

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love

Here's my heart O take a seal it, Seal it for thy courts above

In the past, I've assumed "wandering" consists of immoral actions. I associate the idea of wandering with images of college kids at a frat party. And as I didn't like frat parties even when I was in college, I tend to assume that I'm not a wanderer. Of course that's just a convenient way of getting myself off the hook.

Because I leave the God I love all the time. I wander away all the time. But I don't usually do it through immorality. I do it through doubt. I allow my questions about God's existence, my questions about God's goodness, my theological concerns about substitutionary atonement and the exclusivity of Christ, my fear that prayer is an exercise in futility and not in faithfulness–I wander away through doubt.

I think the Biblical witness, and the witness of the church through time, gives me permission to doubt. Plenty of the Psalms express doubt, and Jesus even echoes these doubts on the cross with his famous and plaintive cry, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" But the Biblical witness of doubt is not a wandering doubt. It's a doubt that approaches God and demands an answer. My doubt is often the doubt that leads to apathy, that tempts me to ignore God altogether.

The boundaries of faith stretch wide, all the way into questions, anger, fear, and doubt. I'm prone to wander. And I'm grateful to the fount of every blessing for leading me back again.

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