I Used To Wander

Psalms 119: 66-68
I believe in your commands, now teach me good judgment and knowledge.
I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word.
You are good and do only good; teach me your decrees.

I was raised in the church. I was dedicated to the service of the Lord at an early age. There was no question that I was to be a servant of God. The only question seemed to be if I was going to be a Pastor here in the States, or if I was going to go serve overseas on the mission field.

(Little did we know that God was already setting things in motion to bring the mission field here to us in numbers that were unimaginable in 1970. And the church, for the most part, seems to have responded by rejecting these very people that God has sent, screaming that they are trying to take away our rights. Somehow our rights have superseded Jesus command to love others more than ourselves.
But that will be for another post….)

But back to my story. As I’ve mentioned previously, that August night in 1973 changed everything. I was finally a teenager, and my first official day as such was going to be spent at our local amusement park.

And then the phone rang at 5 am. There had been an accident with my Dad’s work truck. His employer was trying to get more information for us. (He was actually trying to track down our Pastor to help deliver the terrible news, but the Pastor was off the grid. And in 1973, being “off the grid” basically meant you were anywhere but your home.)

After a couple of hours of waiting for more news, my mom finally got the employer to admit that it was bad. My Dad wasn’t coming home.

Suddenly, my desire to serve God and to honor my dedication and commitment to Him seemed pointless. I began to wander.

I wandered for the rest of the 70s and the first few years of the 80s. I could still recognize God’s discipline, and I might have felt a twinge of conscience a couple of times, but for the most part, I learned to ignore it.

Then God humbled me and brought me down, hard.
Good job – gone.
Nice cars – gone.
Lots of friends – gone.
Then an overdose like no other. I had a total encounter with God, leaving no doubt that, at that very moment, unless I repented, turned my back on the way I had been living, and once again followed Jesus, I would die that very night.

At that moment God granted me good judgment and knowledge. I turned to God to embrace Him, but He was already there, embracing me, and welcoming me back.

My wanderlust wasn’t completely gone yet, and often I would be sidetracked, lose my focus, and then lose my way. But I continued to grow in my sensitivity to God’s discipline and would return quicker and quicker to where God wanted me.

Now, I closely follow His Word. I’m still learning to listen, to be still, and truly hear what He has to say to me. Every day I ask Him to teach me something new.  I’ve realized that even when things don’t seem good, God is using that to produce something good out of it.

God is good.
Praise His Holy Name!
He is my help and my strength.
God alone is why I am still here today.
It was only His strength that allowed me to complete that 5k.
It will only be his strength that allows me to maintain a proper healthy lifestyle and lose the weight that I need to lose.

Because God is good all the time.
All the time, God is good.

Grace and peace, y’all!


  1. Vicki Schiffer on August 19, 2021 at 9:23 am

    Paul, I’m soooo thankful for you and am so proud of the work you are doing. You can and will reach so many people with your testimonies! I love you, dear friend!

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