A writing project has sent me digging for old journals. Stashed away in a box under my bed, they are a record, in smudged pencil and inky scrawl, of where I’ve wandered and how God’s faithfulness, found in the rearview mirror, has pulled me back on course every single time. Who in the world was that thirty-something-year-old mum, overwhelmed by fatigue and bewildered by parenting? To my present day ears, she sounded lost, and it’s a relief to me, standing here with a stack of evidence to God’s faithfulness in the journey, that just because you feel lost doesn’t necessarily mean you are.
Just because I can’t discern God’s ways in the moment doesn’t mean he’s abandoned me:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
When the next step is unclear or the priorities are fuzzy, it’s easy to assume that you’re on your own or that, somewhere along the way, you made a wrong turn. Waiting for the next breadcrumb to show up on the trail is gut wrenching, and so when Robin Dance wrote, “Thinking you’re lost feels just as awful as being lost,” I underlined, re-read, and remembered the awfulness. And then I rejoiced in God’s faithfulness.
Beware of Spiritual Box-Checking
Nurtured in a loving church deep in the heart of the of the Bible belt, belief for Robin Dance came like breathing.
Until it didn’t.
But, then, this is the way of doubt–more of a subtle drift than a seismic shift.
For All Who Wander: Why Knowing God Is Better than Knowing It All is Robin’s story of redirection, of paddling back to the shore, where she stepped out onto the solid ground of God’s sovereignty. His promises came as a cup of cold water in a spiritual desert as she discovered that belief is so much deeper than knowing all the right answers.
Don’t settle for spiritual “box-checking” as a substitute for relationship with God. One sure sign that you’ve begun to wander is a gap between your confessional theology and your practical theology:
Belief is best evidenced by what we do–actions which always flow out of what we honestly think in the secret places of our minds and hearts. And it is a lovely thing when what you believe, say, and do perfectly align. But when they don’t? You’re wandering and don’t even know it.” (33)
Too, church is designed to be the place that breathes life into your faithful following. The purpose of opening your Bible every day is to grow in your understanding of God’s ways and to heighten your desire for him in your life. Your teaching, singing, bulletin-typing, casserole-carrying, nursery-staffing duties are intended to flow from a desire to make his glory known to others. When we get this backward and start checking off the boxes, it’s really time to check the map.
Readers will breathe in hope and exhale relief as they read Robin’s story and come to understand there is no shame in a season of wandering. The life-giving truth of it all is that while you have been looking for answers, God has been offering, all along, the gift of himself.
Many thanks to B&H Publishing for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
Grace and peace to you,
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