“All who wander aren’t lost.”
I keep seeing this phrase on cute things in Target and pretty memes on Instagram. We know Target is my primary residence (they should truly sponsor me at this point), so everything there catches my eye. But I keep thinking about this saying because it honestly doesn’t make sense to me. What do you mean “all who wander aren’t lost”?! Because the literal definition of wander is lost. So how does this work?! Don’t believe me, here are a few heavily researched definitions of the term wander (and by heavily researched, I mean top three choices on Google):
To wander means to move about aimlessly
To wander means to roam about without objective
To wander means to diverge from a fixed path
Now, I don’t know about you, but each one of these definitions sounds pretty lost to me!
But if I’m honest, the thing that catches me most about this phrase is that it runs so contrary to what we’re taught in life. One of the first questions we’re asked as a child is, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” This is an innocent question by itself, so don’t get all super deep and philosophical on me right now. But never did we think to answer that question with, “I’m not sure, I’ll figure it out as I keep living.” Not at all! We picked something that interested us at the time and we made it a goal. For some of us those goals stuck and for others those goals changed along the way. One thing remained the same, each time we’re asked about our direction in life, we came up with something. And that sounds more like life to me. You don’t just wander; you figure something out! Right?!
Well, maybe. But maybe not.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love a plan. More importantly, I love an efficient plan. I am not one of those “let’s make plans the day of” type of people (unless I’m the one making the “day of” plans). I need to know how much does everything cost, who else will be in attendance, and will there be snacks provided (like really, I don’t do being hungry). Also, this information needs to be submitted at least 3-5 business days before the desired event. (I know I’m a little weird, but I literally just said I love a plan. So, is this really that surprising?!)
But more than loving a plan, I really just like control. Because like I’ve confessed before, control feels safe and I like safety. And that’s the case for most humans (and you too). I can’t think of anyone (at this time) that doesn’t enjoy some sense of safety in life. And nothing seems safe about wandering. I watch Criminal Minds! Wandering is how you end up as file number 36089 at the BAU! (That was a dramatic example, but I didn’t lie.)
Unfortunately, somewhere along this life journey we started to confuse making a way with following the way. The two aren’t exactly interchangeable. Actually, they aren’t interchangeable at all. This will make more sense in just a second, keep tracking with me. If you already know where I’m going with this, still keep reading.
We start early in life trying to place all the right pieces in the perfect order to create the life that we desire. However, life never ever ever goes the way we map. We draw a nice life map that includes point A and point B on one quaint street in life. In actuality, life looks a little more like the Georgia 400 in Atlanta during rush hour traffic on Friday evening; with several detours on the exits of regret, missteps, and generally “what the hell was I even thinking!” (Can you tell I’ve said that last one to myself a lot???) And we become more and more distressed because we keep trying to make a way, but won’t stop to follow the way (here’s this analogy again).
What does that even mean?! Thanks for inquiring.
Jesus is THE WAY (the truth and the life). And God said that He would make our paths straight, not vice versa. The reason some of our life roads keep crumbling like London Bridge (from the nursery rhyme or the Fergie song, depending on your frame of reference) is because we hold our way about the way.
There’s only room for one way in our lives. We have to choose.
If following THE WAY feels a little like wandering, then maybe we could all stand to be a little lost.
(God will find you, He literally has eyes everywhere. Literally everywhere.)
Question of the day?
What would change if you chose to get lost on your way?
[In] all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:6 NIV
Jesus answered him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.
John 14:6 GNT
[And] asked for letters of introduction to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he should find there any followers of the Way of the Lord, he would be able to arrest them, both men and women, and bring them back to Jerusalem.
Acts 9:2 GNT
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