Are You Going In Circles?

     It would be really nice if we could just follow everything in the Bible to a “T.”  Oh, and get a diploma or certificate at the end. Something we could look at and say “I have arrived.” No more issues, dealing with people or dealing with our self and our own stuff. Just a nice little certificate. And maybe a frame. Have a “graduation” party. Or perhaps a plaque. A glass one that looks really cool. Yes, heaven is nice and all, but wouldn’t it be nice to have something in the here and now?
     But, we don’t get a certificate, nor a plaque, not even a party. It isn’t a straight path from believing in Jesus to holiness. It just isn’t. And sometimes as we are on this path of becoming more holy, the changes in us aren’t even tangible. We can’t follow everything because we are us. We’re human. There is no “arrival.” Not in this life, anyway.
     AJ Swoboda writes “ As far as I can tell, there is no streamlined path toward arriving at holiness. Every path I can find seems to endure the same kind of bumpy circles that Israel endured. The real road to maturity is miserably slow. A to B in God’s kingdom sometimes includes lots of circles on the journey, a journey that is rarely linear. It would be nice if we were crows and flew the way they do. But God’s people never travel the way the crows do.” (AJ’s book “The Dusty Ones”)
     The lessons we learn come in the circles. They come in the times when we are trying to understand what is going on, leaning into community, into Christ. Not that we can’t learn when things are going well and God is clearly leading us, speaking to us and revealing Himself to us. But, it seems, that the times we learn and grow are the times when the vision we have isn’t clearly tangible, or at least, isn’t manifesting like we think.
     I do believe that among this circly (yes it’s a real word…that I just made up), ambiguous and sometimes seemingly un-efficient life, God teaches us in the most imaginative ways. I’ve written before about how disruption and holy distractions shake us from our hum drum, tunnel vision, going through the motions life to get our attention and create a sacred space for God to teach us. Sacred space that is created out of no where for the purpose of strengthening our faith and understanding in Him. Perhaps He uses these moments to vindicate Himself to those that mock him or to prove without a doubt who He is. Maybe. Moses is one small example. A burning bush in the middle of a normal, everyday day of shepherding sheep and suddenly the whole course of human history is completely shifted. Go fig.
     The Oh Hellos, a great band by the way, writes in their song I’ve Made Mistakes, “And the sun, it does not cause us, the sun it does not cause us to grow. It is the rain that will strengthen, the rain that will strengthen  your soul. And it will make you whole.” Yes, in those moments of what we would normally call blessings-sitting in the sun, picking daisies, everything’s going great- God is there and with us. However, there are also the other blessings, those times that are so agonizingly hard and sad that God actually does more teaching. More teaching in the Bible is from people going through hardships than in time of plenty, when everything is going well. Seriously.
     I think we forget that blessings are both. At least I know I do. It’s hard to see going through hard things as a blessing. Admitting when we were wrong and making amends with people is hard. But in that, the relationship is restored. Fear is removed. Courage and strength are given. All of those things are blessings. This in no way makes it easier. At all. And it is also something that I need to be reminded of when I am in the thick of whatever difficult situation I’m in. No matter how hard. Seeking out those who are trusted in the faith who have been through hardships and have been honest about them are great people to lean into. Hopefully for a listening ear and shoulder to cry on, but also to help us see beyond the situation we’re in. And see God’s presence has never left us. It’s all in circle.
How about you, have you had someone come alongside you and help to see God at work? Have you been there to simply be the presence of God to someone who is hurting? What did God do through you in that moment? What did He do in you?
be blessed today
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