Absurdity of Walking in Circles 04May2020

The Absurdity of Walking in Circles

This strange and challenging season we are currently learning to negotiate is a defining moment for individuals, churches and nations. Defining Moments are divinely arranged, some allowed, by God requiring us to make a choice. People who believe that life is controlled by fate live by chance, happenstance. “What will be, will be” since their life is attached to strings that are controlled by someone or some god. They dance to music they didn’t choose. Someone or some unknown force pulls the strings and they are obliged to comply. Their life is like watching a parade through a knothole in a wooden fence. They see small slices of movement; people but there is no purpose. If they are lucky and the stars shine their way, they are afforded a larger peephole than others so their view is better. In the end, it doesn’t matter because life doesn’t make sense; it has no definition, or destination. It is such a limited and pessimistic worldview, “it is what it is”, and then the parade ends. Death.

People of faith believe in destiny. They don’t seek to align with stars; rather they seek to know the One who created them. They understand there is a divine design to life that allows each individual the freedom to choose the path they will follow but the power of choice is accompanied with either blessings or curses, in the form of consequences. Therefore, it is important to know the Designer because He enables one to see His personal destiny for each uniquely designed person. Making correct choices is important because direction, destiny and eternal destination are dependent upon the choices we make.

These two opposing worldviews represent two paths. One path is an endless circle governed by fate or luck, while the other is a linear route with a destiny and a destination guided by a Designer.

In the context of today’s pandemic it is a common thing to read and/or hear so many people long for things to return to normal as if their path prior to COVID-19 was accompanied with trail angels and splendid circumstances. Normal by definition is common, standard, usual. By definition it is conflicting to the blueprint God has designed. I suppose people like normal because it is safe, predictable, non-demanding. They prefer life in an encircling rut as opposed to blazing a new path because, though a circle is confining, at least it is predictable. You may not be going anywhere but at least you know the way to get there; a path to nowhere is serene until it ends. The average Christian needs to attach a bumper sticker across their forehead like the one I saw recently that read: “Don’t follow me. I don’t know where I am going.” I read once that in Australia there are signs along the roads in the outback that warn travelers, “Choose your rut wisely. You will be in it the next 200 kilometers.”

One of the things we discover about this time of quarantine is that people get upset when you interrupt their ruts! In fact, in their frustration they become mean, concoct conspiracies, and develop imaginary friends who tell them things. And, they will run over you because they are not looking forward but looking longingly backward. The plea, “When can we return to normal?” is like the children of Israel wanting to return to the leeks and garlic of Egypt because the adventure of the wilderness was new, different, and abnormal. They preferred the slavery of their past because, well, at least it was normal. They knew what to expect every day. What an attitude; the misery I am familiar with is better that the different I don’t know about.

In order to reach your destiny you must live beyond you, step outside of normal because if your destiny is not bigger than you, it’s not your destiny. It’s your rut. It’s a circle of death. It’s a coffin waiting for final nails to be applied! Attempting to enjoy today simply because it was like yesterday has no value or future! And you can quote me on that!

For me, the biggest problem with normal is that it is so boring! Among the many things I have learned after six decades in ministry is this, I have concluded that one problem that produces complacency in so many Christ followers is that they are bored. We preachers have removed the demands of discipleship and made following Jesus user-friendly so to attract more followers. Without intending to, we have removed the challenge and adventure from the faith walk and the followers we do have are bored. My response to bored believers is this; if Christianity is boring to you, then you haven’t met Jesus! From your experience of reading the New Testament multiple times, can visualize the response of Jesus if one of the disciples asked Him, “Master, will tomorrow be like today or will it be like yesterday?” In other words, normal! In my mind I visualize Jesus saying, “Guys, if you follow me closely you will never experience another normal day in your life!” Jesus is the most adventurous man who ever lived! Follow Him and He will lead you away from normal.

I have not seen the entire series of “The Chosen” but in one episode Jesus is being His wonderful, mighty, unusual self in preforming a miracle to which one of the disciples responded, “That’s different!” Jesus smiled and replied, “Get use to different.” The moment those men and women, each one unique and individually loved, decided to follow Jesus, normal was politely commanded to leave. Religion feels comfortable around normal; Jesus prefers different.

As Moses led Israel through the Wilderness they came to Kadesh Barnea and the land God promised was there before them like ripe fruit waiting to be picked. They sent spies into the land who returned with the evidence of the lands fruitfulness. Yet, the people complained in their tents, even accused the Lord of hating them, rebelled against Him and refused to occupy the land that He provided. They turned back into the wilderness but this time it wasn’t an exciting adventure abounding with miracles. It was a death march, every day like the one before it; digging graves. They walked in circles around Mount Seir for many days until the Lord spoke to Moses, “You have circled this mountain long enough, now turn north.” (Deuteronomy 2:3)

Christ followers, we will return to the equipping houses soon but things will not be normal. Circumstances require churches to change and that’s a good thing. As September 11 changed our nation in so many things, being a frequent flyer I am aware of those things on a routine basis, so this virus will redefine normal. Nations change and that can be a good thing, however, it you are the type of person who tends to like ruts or walking in circles; you will not like the new normal. I challenge you to stop walking in circles around a non-essential mountain just because it is familiar to you. Turn north! As the wise men followed His Star, seek the One who has a blueprint for your destiny. Allow the Lord to break your addiction to normal and watch Him exchange normal with unusual, unique. Different. Turn. Head north.

Ldw 03May2020