A few years ago I thought I was going to a certain church to be their interim. I had met with the committee and all seemed well. Until. They got an email from someone who really ripped me. Bad. Someone on the committee let me read it. It hurt deep. My life and ministry had been summarized as the failure of a dabbler and wanderer who could never find oneself. Did I say it hurt? Oh yeah. I said that. And since this email had been sent to one on the committee, they "moved on".
I shared that experience with a friend of mine. He told me of a t-shirt his wife had given him. When Cheryl and I were on vacation last year, we spent a couple days on Hilton Head. In one of the shops was a stack of the t-shirts with a sketch of a pair of sandals and the caption "Not all who wander are lost". Loved it. Bought it.
Watching the bios of Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash reminded me of that. The recent passing of blogger Michael Spencer reminded me of that. He blogged under the title Internet Monk. He was a wanderer who challenged the lifeless dribble of much of the current N. American religious world.
It is said by some of Music City that is the kind of place that if it cannot own you, it will destroy you. I have seen churches and denominations that fit that same description.
I was asked today by a seminary professor, "What percent of congregations do believe are having problems?" I ventured an 80%. That may be low. But my experience as an evangelist was that roughly one of five congregations in which I spoke seemed to have spiritual vitality.
Is there a place in today's religious world for the wanderer? Is there a place for the person who will not be controlled? I submit there had better be.
Wanderers are pilgrims. We have no permanent zip code here. Our citizenship is heaven. We are utilitarian for some - once used for their purposes, then there is no further use for us. However, "Jesus Is Lord" should not only be the testimony of our lips but also the experience of our lives. He warned what would happen to those who followed him in truth: they, too, would be persecuted, misunderstood, discredited and dismissed.
This is the time for aggressiveness in proclaiming the truth of God's Word. Much is at stake. Program driven entities will not be life-giving; they will be life-draining.
Many of us wonder as we wander. And yet, we are not lost. Caleb and Joshua wandered with the children of Israel in the Wilderness. But they were not lost. They heard God; they believed God; and they brought back a report of faith. They knew their God and they knew that through Him they could and would do mighty things. They were not in a hurry. They submitted to God in all areas of life. And they both entered the promised land and the promised rest while most of their peers died in the wilderness.
Do not allow yourself to morph into a "settler" mentality in your church. Never lose the pilgrim motif. Not all who wander are lost.