Like a bird that wanders from its nest is a man who wanders from his place. – Proverbs 27:8
When I was just a small boy, I remember getting lost in a department store. My mother took my brother and I to large city to shop in one of their big department stores. I cannot remember what diverted my attention but I suppose it was some sort of toy truck, car or tractor. There was not a toy truck, car or tractor made that I didn’t want. After what I thought was only a brief few seconds admiring a shiny new item I wanted to add to my toy box, I realized I couldn’t see my mom.
In just a few moments, I went from a state of total security, to complete panic. I was alone, in a large store, in a large town – completely unfamiliar with my surroundings. I remember running down the isle, looking left and right desperately looking for my mom. I couldn’t see her. I checked other isles with no positive results until finally I remember calling out for her. When I heard her call my name, I quickly left the toy department and went back to her side. I stayed pretty close to her the rest of the trip.
Being out-of-place can take on a few different meanings. You may feel physically out-of-place or away from home or distant from comfortable surroundings; or you may feel this way when you’re being ignored or forgotten. Either way, feeling out-of-place is a difficult experience. I think however, here Solomon is not speaking so much of being physically away from home. I think he is speaking about an emotional or spiritual struggle.
It is interesting to me that Solomon uses the phrase “wander from his place” or some versions use the words “stray from his home.” This seems to indicate the person was distracted and experienced an incremental distancing or we might say, “drift” from what was comfortable or familiar to the sudden realization they were far away.
Wandering or drifting out-of-place slowly occurs over time. It’s the little decisions that seem benign at the time but set us on a slow course away from our “place” or “home.” Whether it’s small points of compromise around biblical principles or neglecting normal spiritual disciplines, this drift is hardly noticeable – at first. But, at some point, suddenly there is the realization that home is a long distance away.
The writer of Hebrews states, “Therefore we must give earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Hebrews 2:1). Clearly, this is a warning to us. The drift or wandering can be subtle but it is real and quite dangerous. We are to expend effort in keeping ourselves close to Him, to not drift away.
Therefore, spiritual disciplines are important to the life of a believer. Bible study, prayer, church attendance are all necessary disciplines and you could probably add fellowship and personal accountability to the list. The point is drifting or straying away is easy and it is only with a concerted effort on our part, do we remain close to God.
Don’t let those shiny new toys distract you. You might find yourself from your nest.