His story hits home with this heart… maybe because I see in it a faint glimmer of myself… a glimmer of all humanity.
Robert Robinson was only a small boy when he was tragically left fatherless. He was bright and headstrong and without the guidance of a father, he found himself in ever increasing trouble. His teenage years were wild and empty. The happiness he searched for always seemed to elude him. He longed for something to fill the void inside of him and secretly hoped for an opportunity to attend George Whitfield’s meetings nearby. Too ashamed to admit his desire, he rounded up his equally degraded friends and suggested that they go and make fun of the meeting. But amid the laughing and joking of his peers, Robert’s heart was deeply touched by what he heard. For three years those truths replayed in his mind to haunt him. Love was seeking him and would not give up until He had his heart.
Finally, at 20, Robert decided he had had enough of himself and was ready to let the King of Love have his heart. Heaven rejoiced. Shortly after, he felt called to ministry and for several years was associated with the Wesleys. He was a powerful speaker and impacted many lives by his service.
But maybe the biggest thing Robert ever did was to write a simple poem to compliment one of his sermons. The poem was later set to music and became famous as the hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Not only would the song change lives for centuries, but it would eventually change his own.
In his later years, Robert drifted from the God he loved. His poem had become his autobiography…
But Love was not content to leave him in himself. While on a train one day, the young woman next to him who had no clue who he was, began sharing with him the huge impact the hymn “Come Thou Fount” was having on her life. Try as he might, Robert could not make her change the subject. Finally, with tears in his eyes, he quietly responded, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who composed that him many years ago. And I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.” The young woman gently quoted his own thoughts to him, “Sir, the streams of mercy are still flowing.” His heart was touched. He turned his heart back to the Love that had so tirelessly sought him and gave his heart to the only One who could truly seal it for the courts above…
Two lines of his song have been a soundtrack running through my consciousness lately…
“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it…
Prone to leave the God I love.”
Sometimes I think we class wandering as giving up on God completely and having a fling with the world. But what about those moments when we become consumed in our work at the expense of taking time to hear His heart? What about those mornings we just don’t feel like talking to Him, and so run off on our own? What about those times when we feel confused and hear a gentle voice saying “Come to me. Please. I just want to help you” but fight it off with the excuse that I can handle this myself? What about the times we turn to amusement and entertainment to give us joy instead of relentlessly seeking His heart? What about then? Isn’t that wandering too?
Honestly though… we don’t like to think that we might be guilty of wandering. We like to think that we are the faithful ones.That we wouldn’t dream of leaving Him. Meanwhile, an honest look at the facts proves quite otherwise.
But in avoiding the reality of the state of our own hearts, we miss the beauty of the reaction of His.
One of the most beautiful and lovable things about my Jesus is the way He loves me even when I fail Him… I don’t know how many mornings I’ve gotten up and told Him how excited I was to spend the day with Him and how I wanted to put Him first, etc, etc… and proceeded to run off into the day and be totally consumed in my tasks, only to have it dawn on me as I tumble into bed or catch a few quiet moments out in my meadow. And somehow, every time He seems to gently welcome me back with arms wide open and a little comment about how He missed me. It always melts me. I go away determined to do better. And gradually, His love and patience is changing this heart from a busy and activity centered girl, to one who knows the greatest joy is to sit at the feet of Jesus.
But so often we stop Him from transforming us because we don’t admit our own wanderings. Or if we do, we quickly shove them into the back of our mind.
I wonder if we are sometimes afraid to recognize the love and patience of our Jesus in the face of our failure because it is a heavy blow to our human pride. We like to consider ourselves deserving of love. It’s cuts at that pride to admit that on our own we are little wretches who deserve to be left alone… but are loved more deeply that we can imagine anyway.
Truth is though, that all human pride is an obstacle to really knowing His heart. We have to be willing to lay ourselves low. To recognize our failings and wanderings and look up into the eyes of deepest Love and accept that they reflect a depth of love we could never deserve.
Maybe we wander because deep down we still think we can do it on our own. But when we are willing to lay low and look up at the One who was bruised and bleeding for me-- maybe it is then that Love will transform us into hearts that wander no more.
Could it be that the very chord which binds our heart to His heart is our recognition of our frailty and His everlasting loyalty?
Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me ever to adore Thee,
May I still Thy goodness prove,
While the hope of endless glory
Fills my heart with joy and love.
Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
Hither by thy help I’ve come;
And I hope, by thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed his precious blood.
O, to Grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind me closer still 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.