Three Keys to Fight Spiritual Wandering

Wanderlust = A strong desire or urge to wander or travel and explore the world

I love to travel.

My passport is full of stamps holding stories of far off places, magnificent lands, and beautiful people, each painting pictures of God’s creative genius. I’m a firm believer that some of the best adventures are had exploring new areas, meeting new people, tasting new foods, and experiencing new cultures. It’s one of my all-time favorite things.

Some people have diagnosed me with wanderlust. But I don’t think that sense of wanderlust is accurately encompassed by cute sayings on Pinterest. Neither do I believe traveling is limited to visiting new geographical locations.

In fact, I do the most traveling within my own soul. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.

I am prone to leave the God I love in search of pleasures in other places.

Prone to Wander

It’s illogical, really. As believers in Jesus, we’ve been brought into a kingdom that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading (2 Peter 1:3-5). We’ve been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9), yet we are inclined to flee to other territories and things that cannot satisfy.

We are prone to wander to broken cisterns, flawed humans, and lifeless water. We travel from our First Love to lesser loves, from the greatest Treasure to cheap trinkets, from full joy to lesser thrills. And we wander to towns emptied of glory, cities filled with destruction, and villages that reek of lies and disappointment.

These new locations are littered with rocks that dash our hopes, potholes that swallow our faith, and bridges of fear that break under the weight of our worship. All roads in this dark place lead to dead ends (Proverbs 14:12).

Fighting the Wanderlust

So how do we fight our spiritual wanderlust?

1. Preach

We remind ourselves of truth, preaching the gospel to each other and ourselves daily. We have no good apart from the Lord. His nearness is our good, our refuge, and our motivation to reject avenues of self-gratification. He helps us press on, stay the course, and make disciples (Psalm 16:2; Psalm 73:28; Philippians 3:12-16; Matthew 28:18-20).

So we acknowledge our need of a Savior today. We preach the truth to ourselves that only God satisfies and his grace is sufficient for our vagabond souls. Through Jesus, the Father is taming our nomadic hearts and reshaping them to steadfastly pursue his. This only comes through the power of the gospel and dependency on the steadfast One.

2. Pray

Without the Holy Spirit, we are helpless. We need him to lead us, and we need our hearts softened by the Word and prayer in order to be sensitive to his leading.

His sovereign shepherding may take us down alleys and back roads that seem too narrow for survival. Those are the times when we, in our flesh, will want to dart off in search of easier routes. So we resist the urge to run. Instead, through prayer, we stake our hearts in the power of the resurrected King and his flawless guidance that takes us into paths of life and joy (Psalm 16:11).

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41)

We need the Spirit, our divine guide on this journey to the Celestial City, to charge our hearts and govern our ambitions, those desires inclined to choose anything other than Christ.

3. Persevere

Yes, we need the Spirit, but we also have a responsibility to build ourselves up in our faith, pray in the Spirit, and keep ourselves in the love of God as we wait for Jesus (Jude 20-21). We are to actively guide our hearts (Proverbs 23:19), put to death our fleshly impulses (Romans 8:13), and walk in a manner worthy of the gospel (Ephesians 4:1).

The book of Proverbs is filled with commands to ponder the path of our feet, to spiritually check ourselves before we wreck ourselves, and to diligently guard the way we’re walking. We are commanded to follow the Captain of our souls, not our own whims. Because of the gospel, we can now say no to spiritual trips that drift us away from Jesus—but we must intentionally fight to corral our hearts with the gospel.

Don’t load up on emotional airlines that will carry you away from truth. Do not be driven by vehicles of circumstance. Fight detours in your soul. Keep your gaze fixed on Christ, and do not turn to the right or to the left (Proverbs 4:25). Discipline your heart for “Little by little, one travels far” (J. R. R. Tolkien).

We must be vigilant. We must persevere.       

Bind My Wandering Heart

Our hearts are prone to wander. Maybe that’s why Paul prayed they would grow roots in the stabilizing force of God’s love (Ephesians 3:17). It’s only when we’re planted in him that we find the contentment and excitement our souls crave, but we have to teach our hearts to yearn for the true and better adventure led by the true and better Adventurer.

This is Jesus, the one who takes us to places we’ve never been and shows us what we’ve never dreamed. 

With him, our nail-scarred Guide, we’re on a journey to the everlasting city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10), a place where death is swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54), and where we will wander no more (Revelation 21:3-5).

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you. (Augustine)

Big-scale adventure is not found in the pages of a passport, but on the narrow path to holiness.

That’s the real trip of a lifetime — to an eternity. Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

[Photo Credit: Lightstock]

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Sophie McDonald is a writer, Bible teacher, and the assistant editor of RTM Magazine. She’s a fan of blue ink pens, theology, books, coffee, and journals. Her primary aim is the fulfillment of the Great Commission and a life drenched in holiness. You can read more of her writing on her blog and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Date Posted: Sep 12th, 2017