If we are honest with ourselves, we can be distracted by the difficulties we face, the “excitement” of the world around us, and we may not abandon God, but like the Ephesians, our love can diminish and even be actively absent at times. We need to take the Psalmist’s prayer and make it our own: “Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.” If that is our daily prayer and reminder to ourselves, it will be a preventative measure against our own wandering away from God. Heed the warning before you find yourself lost and floundering in darkness away from the Father: “Don’t wander away!”
If you grew up anything like me, you heard those words more than once: “Don’t wander off.” That was code for, “If you get lost, it’s your own fault AND you’re going to be in trouble!” As curious children are prone to do, in spite of the warnings, I still got lost a few times. It’s because of children like me that they invented those kiddie leashes! Unfortunately, children aren’t the only ones who tend to stray at times.
In Deuteronomy 4, God spends ample time stressing the importance of His Word, and Israel’s attention to it. Don’t add to it, don’t take away from it, learn it, obey it. And after all of those important reminders, Israel did a great job of remembering for a while. But then, like a curious 5 year old, distractions entered their lives. They faced adversities, they saw the “excitement” of the cultural worship around them, and they strayed from God’s Words and commandments.
It’s easy for us at times to look at Israel and think, “How could they have so much (led by a cloud and pillar of fire, water from a rock, manna in the wilderness) and wander away from God?” But as we recently studied in Revelation, the Ephesians (Gentiles) were charged with the same thing in Revelation 2. They left their first love. Oh, they didn’t abandon God altogether, they just diminished their passion for following Him.