I’ve said many times that I’ve grown up around music. Both of my parents love Motown, as do I. We also love Chrisitan music. My grandparents went to churches that believed in loud worship services, with clapping and dancing. With shouting and crying. I remember being a little kid, surrounded by this commotion and not very sure what was happening. So, to distract myself in a way that looked respectful, I would look at the old hymns in the hymn books, and read the lyrics to them. A strange way to pass time, I know. But it looked like I was striving for a holy life at 8 years old, and it kept me quiet.
Little did I know that those hymns would stick with me, becoming a part of who I am. One, in particular, has followed me throughout the highs and lows of life. This hymn is Come Thou Fount. Written in the 18th century by Robert Robinson, a protestant minister, Come Thou Fount has been covered by several bands and worship leaders since; some being Jars of Clay and David Crowder. I grew up becoming very familiar with this song, however, like most of the Christian world, it meant nothing to me until much later.
This song found me in a very interesting season of life. I was 18, had just graduated from high school, and was in Black Mountain, North Carolina working at the amazing Rockmont Christian Camp for Boys. Before I left for camp, I had packed everything I owned up, preparing for a 24-hour stay at home (Stone Mountain, Georgia) before going to college in Lafayette, Louisiana. My life was reduced to a set of boxes, only one of which remains at home until I graduate from college.
In short, I was in a season of wandering.
And this is where the song came in. One night, during worship, where 500 boys sing camp songs and worship together in the gym, this song was sung. Sure, it had been sung in sessions before. But this night was different. See, a few days before this service, I had been given a tribal name. This was all part of tradition, and I was hoping for something cool, something manly. This was a man’s camp, after all. What I received was different, to say the least. I was dubbed the Sojourning Servant.
Excuse me, but what?
Naturally, I was confused by such a title. This wasn’t manly or dangerous. This was…odd, to say the least. Finally, I had a moment to ask our director about this name. I wanted to know why this was the name I was given. It was explained that in my free time, I was known to wander, traveling from one end of camp to another, going on hikes, following a creek bed. However, when I worked, I was always ready to help. Thus, I was the Sojourning Servant.
And Come Thou Fount called me out on this, with this famous verse:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
I recognized that my wandering spirit could be a curse. Just as I like wandering around town at night, I could do that in my walk with God. I could wander around Him, or wander away from Him. Both would be easy, and somewhat desirable. And left to me, I most definitely wander. As Hosea would say, the spirit of Whoredom is strong in my bones, leading me to wander. And my fellow wanderers know, we never come back to where we once were on purpose, which explains this verse:
Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. For the spirit of whoredom is within them, and they know not the LORD.
I think that it’s not that we don’t want to come back to God, but because we wander so much, we have no idea when we are back with God. We are only with Him for a brief moment, before allowing the wanderlust to take our minds and our hearts again. Yet, if we knew who God is, if we knew how much He loves us, if we knew the sacrifice he gave for us, then would we still wander?
That is the question that comes to me today. Come Thou Fount was sung during service today, and I found myself praying this prayer. That God take my wandering heart and mark it for his work, that I might wander in His love, rather than out of it. Because I am full of wandering (wanderingful, if you will). But, my heart shall stay anchored to the love of my father, my God. And because I know my God and He knows me, I will always make it home.
This is a prayer out Catholic brothers and sisters pray for the traveler, or in my case, the wanderer:
O almighty and merciful God, Who hast commissioned Thy angels to guide and protect us, command them to be our assiduous companions from our setting out until our return; to clothe us with their invisible protection; to keep us from all danger of collision, of fire, of explosion, of falls and bruises; and finally, having preserved us from all evil, and especially from sin, to guide us to our heavenly home. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.