James 5:19-20 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
As I read these verses my thoughts immediately went to the story of the life of Robert Robinson, author of “Come, thou fount of every blessing”. Robert’s father died when he was 8 and he lived a profligate life that his mother could not control.
As a young man he went with friends to heckle the preaching of George Whitfield but, instead, the preached Word on the wrath of God continued to trouble him and he later came to faith in Christ. He became a pastor and wrote this wonderful, very moving hymn. Some time later he turned away from the Lord and, while in this ‘lost’ state, he boarded a stage coach and sat next to a lady who commented on how much she loved a hymn, “Come, thou fount of every blessing”, especially the powerful eighth verse: “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, oh take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.” Robert confessed to her that he was the author of the hymn, and that he was currently ‘wandering’ from the Lord he loved. Amazingly, that gentle conversation brought him back to faith, and saved him from eternal death, bringing him back to a place where confessed sin could be covered by Christ’s shed blood!
My thoughts then went to Jesus’ parable of the ‘Lost Sheep’, and the effort to which the Good Shepherd went to seek it out and carry it home. I then had to ask myself, “How understanding, gentle, and committed am I in praying for and seeking out people I know who might have ‘wandered from the truth’? Do I really appreciate how much we ALL are ‘prone to wander’ from the ‘Lord we love’? When I fear this has been the experience of a struggling ‘brother’, am I truly understanding … or do I have a judgemental condemnatory attitude? Many years ago a friend made the comment that the ‘church’ is the only ‘army’ he knows where there is a tendency to ‘kick’ a wounded soldier when he is down, instead of helping him up, binding up his wounds, and carrying him to safety!
“Jesus sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God; he, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood. … … Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be, let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.”