As a child, I could never understand how the other kids could love the tire swing at our park, laughing as they were being endlessly spun around. I’ve never liked being out of control, and the thought of giving someone the power to push me past my comfort zone always prevented me from even getting on, (when other people were around anyway!) I was reminded of this today, as the kids in my class got talking about going in circles, and getting so dizzy to the point of being sick. I’ll spare you all the details, but one of the kids shared an experience he had with his dad at the amusement park on one of those rides where people wait in line only to be spun around and around. Good ol’ dad couldn’t take the spinning and ended up shouting at the ride operator, “Stop this ride, I want off!” Thankfully for my student, who was sitting in front of his father, the ride stopped just in time! The kids all had a good laugh, but even as an adult, the thought of going in circles is not my idea of a good time, whether it’s on a ride at the amusement park, or from circling in defeat in some area of my life where victory over sin is eluding me.
We live in a fallen world and we are a fallen people with areas of temptation that we continuously struggle with. Paul understood this struggle against our sin nature and so aptly described the cause of our constant circling in and out of sin: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature. For, I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” (Romans 7:18-20 NIV). It is sin living in us that keeps us going in circles, even when in exasperation, we are crying out to stop.
Not all circles are bad. God created our world to be cyclical. The sun comes up in the morning and sets each evening, only to return the next day. Seasons come and seasons go. Winter comes and freezes over all that was growing, but spring will come again and the flowers will come into bloom. All these things are as God created them to be.
Cycles of sin were not a part of God’s original design. They are result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience and a result of our disobedience as well. How many of us wake up on Monday morning with a new determination that this week will be the week that we will overcome our struggles, only to have our newly mustered motivation shattered before sundown. How many have promised hundreds of times to give up that sinful habit or how many vow to start again on Monday, as the plans to eat healthy and finally lose the weight are thrown out the window in exchange for that one tempting piece of chocolate. So often we compromise on our desire to walk the straight path, and enter the round-a-bout, just one more time. When is it going to stop? When will this dizzying ride be over?
The Israelites knew a little something about wandering in the desert, going in circles. For years they wandered due to the unbelief and disobedience of their fathers. Forty years of thinking about what could have been in Egypt. Forty years of wondering what living an abundant life would feel like. On one part of the journey, the Israelites rebelled against the Lord and went up into the hill country at Mount Seir, even though the Lord had warned them not to. This disobedience resulted in years of circling for the Israelite community and when God felt they had learned their lesson and had been wandering around long enough, He said to Moses “You have circled this mountain long enough, now turn north” (Deuteronomy 2:3 NAS)
I have some areas in my life where I’ve been circling far too long as well. What mountain of sin or temptation have you been circling long enough? Sister, it may be time for a change of direction. Thankfully we serve a God who is into changing our directions. He desires for us to trust Him enough to break the chains that keep us spiralling in defeat. He is able! “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” (Galatians 5:1 NIV) and this freedom can be a reality for those who belong to Him. Surrender your life. Obey His commands, and he will make your paths straight!
“Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5,6)