September 18, 2019
Prone to Wander
September 18, 2019
A favorite Peanuts cartoon shows Charlie Brown grumbling about the unfairness of having a baseball game rained out, only to be instructed by Linus, who says: “Charlie Brown, you need to study theology. The Bible says, ‘The rain falls on the just and on the unjust.’” Missing a ballgame is no great loss, but Linus is right. God does not use storms, droughts, or earthquakes to punish people.
While some of us experienced the beauty and bounty of God’s good earth this summer—the rivers and green fields and forests—others suffered: drought and wild fires on one coast and hurricane Dorian on the other. We can and should examine our consciences as to how all of us treat the earth and how our overuse and abuse of nature’s gifts contribute to climate change.
We may indeed suffer the consequences of our actions, but natural disasters are not punishment leveled by God on the individuals most affected by them.
“The ground is cracked . . . the farmers are dismayed. Even the doe in the field deserts her newborn fawn because there is no grass” (Jer 14:4-5). We are moved by this sight; it contrasts with the twin spotted fawns I saw last week enjoying all they could eat of the lush grass in our pasture. Jeremiah uses devastating images of a drought-stricken land to warn the people—and us—against lapses into dried-up spirituality and the danger of wandering from the truth.
Peter’s denial is an example of what can happen all too quickly. In Luke 22:31, he makes the strongest possible commitment to Jesus: to the death! But only 20 verses later, the situation becomes intense, and he lies to avoid exposure as a follower of Christ. We know that Jesus not only forgave Peter but commissioned him to “feed my sheep.” This is the One we serve: God who forgives and expects us to move on to greater commitment to the way of Jesus Christ.
QUESTIONS FOR THE FIELD
- What stories in the Bible do you remember that speak of a land that is barren? What do these stories say about the people’s relationship to God?
- What practices help us keep our spiritual life from “drying up”? What moments of grace have you experienced that bring you back to God’s “streams of living water”?
FAMILY FIELD TALK
- What happens when parts of our country suffer from too little rain? What can we do as a family to conserve water and other natural resources?
- Pray for people in countries that are experiencing famine. Pray for those who lost homes to wildfires and for the firefighters who battle fires every day.
“O, to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be. Let that grace now 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.” In Jesus name. Amen. (“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” (UMH # 400)