Out Our Way: How did I get here? - Psalm 121


Last updated 6/11/2021 at 8:51am

Out our way, one of the tasks Charlie and I handled was looking for strays. When Charlie and I find a lost calf, we move him back to Mama and the lush pastures he left behind. But why did he leave? How did he get lost in the first place?   

Well, first of all, Mama didn't leave him, he left her. Chances are, it was never intentional, but he got just as lost and cut off as if he had deliberately decided to abandon her. Most likely, he simply forgot about her, so focused on wandering, chasing butterflies and exploring the "world." He forgot Mama and soon drifted away from the herd, the cattle trails blazed by countless generations, and from home. And soon he was lost. 

I suspect many of us could relate to that lost stray, because so many of us are just as lost. We have drifted away from friends, family, community, leaving the ways of wisdom blazed by countless others who came before, gone our own way and become hopelessly lost. Perhaps our stray calf can help us understand how we got here - and give us hope that though we have forgotten God, He has not forgotten us.

Our stray didn't "run away" from Mama, he simply strayed. Distracted by the sights and sounds and smells of the glorious world into which he was born, he started wandering. But being a newborn calf and without much knowledge or wisdom, he didn't know what he was doing nor where he was going. He just wandered.

Had he remembered Mama, he would have stayed close and begun to learn and grow in wisdom. He would learn where the water was - the best pasture land - that the old trails had been created via trial and error by many earlier generations who, having explored all options, had discovered the best routes to crisscross the prairie. But, wandering off, he ended up in the back country where the grass was poor, the water scarce, and only thorn bushes offered any shelter. He forgot Mama,wandered off, and now was lost.

What was true for that stray calf is also true for a good many of us. We didn't "run away" from God so much as forgot Him and just wandered. We left behind the old trails of human history and accumulated wisdom, and proved the old adage: "those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it." False trails that were found to lead nowhere in the past are again in vogue in our culture just because they are not the old trails of our ancestors. That they go nowhere, or worse, lead us into the wilderness of thorns instead of lush pastures, is a reality the ignorant wanderer must soon discover. Some of us already have. But there is something else to be discovered - and, again, something many already have: that although we are lost and may feel forgotten, we need not stay lost, for we were never forgotten.

Read the Psalm of Thanksgiving a nation of lost strays sang as they found their way back home. They too had wandered and strayed and gotten lost. But just as Charlie and I came after that lost calf and put him on the right trail back to Mama, so God sent His prophets and leaders to His lost people to set them on the right trail. He still does today, if we have ears to listen, eyes to see and a soul to respond.

"How did I get here?" asks the stray. By inattention, distraction and forgetting God. "How do I get back?" By waking up and opening our eyes, ears and heart. Someone is coming to help you begin. You may have forgotten God but He has not forgotten you.   

Be blessed and be a blessing!

Brother John 


The Rev. John Bruington is the retired pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Havre. He now lives in Colorado, but continues to write "Out Our Way." He can be reached for comment or dialogue at [email protected]


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