For far too long, I've wandered. I've wandered away from God, and back again, grazing here or there at whim, whenever I felt like I wanted something particularly nice, a tasty morsel of God’s Word. But there was always the pull of greener pastures. And so I’d wander. Away.
There is a certain beauty in wild wandering. I like to imagine someone backpacking the emerald terrain of Ireland, standing above the coastal cliffs and looking out over the choppy seas and just owning the world for a moment. Or maybe someone trekking through the Redwoods, marveling at the immensity of those ancient forests. There’s just something wild and beautiful and free about the wilderness. Prairies, mountains, forests, rivers, seas. Exploration. Adventure.
But the type of wandering I've done for so long looked a lot more like…hiding. Running. Trying to escape. Because instead of walking next to God as we journeyed together through the beautiful places (and through the dark, difficult places – but always together), I would get scared. I would lose trust and hope, and so I’d run up to the crags, crouching among the boulders, skinning my knees and my hands as I fell on sharp rocks in an attempt to climb away, to hide.
But Monday night, everything changed.
Monday night, at a revival service, I wrestled with God. Because I've had this thorn in my side. And God was standing there with his giant spirit-tweezers, ready to pluck the thing out before it got even more infected, and I was running away and hiding like a child whose fear of the pain of splinter removal was greater than the fear of infection, hospitalization, even death (because who understands death anyway?).
So Monday night, I wrestled with God. And finally, I removed my hand from the thorn, from the wound. I exposed it. I let God see it, really see it, so that He could get in there with his spirit-tweezers and pull the thing out and cleanse the wound so that it would heal.
It didn't hurt nearly as badly as I’d thought it would. In fact, the most painful part was realizing that I’d been the one holding onto it. All this time I've been fighting and arguing with Him – whining, really – “Why, God, why? Why won’t you take this away?” And His simple, patient, loving response was, “You have to open your hands if you want me to take it from you. I can’t take something that you’re still holding onto.”
And last night, I realized that I was still holding onto the ashes of all the pain, the lies the enemy has been throwing at me for so long, the shame, the guilt…even the pleasure of all those things going on in my mind, all those things related to the thorn (which was now gone, but the remnants, the ashes, weren't). And so, I lifted the ashes in my hands and blew them into the four winds, scattering the ashes to the farthest reaches, where they could no longer haunt me.
In the midst of all this change and giving up of self, I cried out to God, “I cannot wander away from you anymore! I want to wander with you!” And I heard God say (because I certainly would not have been able to make this up), “From now on, you shall be called Wander With.”
All Monday night and all day Tuesday, I wondered, “Wander With…what? Who? The name feels incomplete. I certainly don’t want it to be ‘Wander With…Evil.’ Can’t we put something definitive in there, God? Like, umm, ‘God’?” And again I heard God’s voice, that I would know the rest of the name Tuesday evening.
I was a little distracted throughout the revival service that night – not only because my son had refused to stay in the nursery and so I held him the entire time, but also because I kept seeking the rest of my new name. “Is it Spirit, Lord? Wander With Spirit? Or, what about Power? That kind of sounds nice.” I had to pray that God would keep me focused on Him instead of my search for my name, so that I wouldn't miss anything else important.
By the end of the service, after the minister had spoken about a whole list of things I could possibly tack on the end of “Wander With,” I realized something. God was right the first time. (Go figure.) It’s just “Wander With.” Because I am called to Wander With God, with the Spirit, with Jesus, with Passion, with Purity, with Fire, with Faith. Wander With a whole bunch of things.
But not Wander Away.
That is a thing of the past.