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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Going In Circles

“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:23  (NLT)
During my early years at home, it was a well known fact that my daddy rarely planned a family vacation or road trip outside of our county.  He was a man who simply liked to stay at home.  However, on rare occasions, daddy would break out of his comfort zone and make the decision to travel to a neighboring state in search of fresh peaches.  My siblings and I knew that these trips would result in bushels of peaches being purchased and brought home for our mother to prepare for later use.  Once a summer date had been set for our little excursion, it was no wonder that we children continually dreamed of peach cobblers and fried peach pies!  
Since daddy hardly ever ventured out into “city’ traffic, I cannot think of anything that made him more nervous than encountering what he called “traffic circles”, or roundabouts as they are more commonly called.  If traffic was moving rapidly, daddy would sometimes go in circles until the adjustment into the desired lane had been made. Due in part to his nervous concentration, more often than not he would end up in the wrong lane, which left no choice but to take an exit that was never intended.  Once that mistake was made, time was spent going back around the circle until the correct exit was taken.  Since the final destination was the most important part of the trip, arrival was always more enjoyable for all of us if daddy stayed on course, experienced fewer distractions, and arrived with less wear and tear from the journey.  A good navigation system would certainly have been a great benefit, but such a thing had not yet been invented!
In the scenario mentioned above, there are some spiritual applications that caused me to write this article.  Unfortunately, it was easy for me to see that many times in my own spiritual life, I have been the one going in circles--not quite getting it right; making wrong turns and having to turn around and go back to the place where I could start over and head in the right direction again.  In these times, I failed to completely follow what I knew to be God’s perfect navigation system—the Bible.  God’s Word had been implanted into my heart at an early age; yet at times, I failed Him, others, and myself.  These times in my life always caused great sadness and discouragement.
In spite of my past failures, it gives me great joy to tell you that this story has been re-written for me.  It is God’s story of unconditional love, forgiveness and grace upon my life.  It is now the story of an unshakable reliance and faith in Jesus Christ and a passionate desire to follow Him at all cost.  In me, He has created a sincere willingness to serve rather than be served and to tell others about the One who has brought me through this transformation. 
Through hardships, I have discovered that trials do make people stronger and am so thankful that because of my faith in Christ, I don’t have to continue going in circles. I am at rest and peace, knowing that God loves me enough to correct my course when I make a wrong turn or have an attitude that is not pleasing to Him. His forgiveness is something that I will never take for granted.  I have always found my heavenly Father to be faithful, even at times when I was not. 
Are you at a place in your own life where you feel discouraged?  Do you feel that God could not ever forgive, much less love someone like you because of your past failures?  Do you find yourself going in circles, feeling as though you are accomplishing nothing for the Kingdom of God?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, please hear me when I say that God loves you with an everlasting love. There is nothing about you that He does not already know.  He wants a relationship with you through His Son, Jesus Christ. He wants nothing more than to give you peace and comfort for your soul.  You are loved.  You are loved.  You are loved.   And that, my friends, is an unconditional love that will always remain the same. 
Additional Scriptures for Reflection:
"There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins."  Ecclesiastes 7: 20 (NIV)
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness."  Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)
"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God."   Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV)
"Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."  Romans 12:9-11 (NIV)

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