Are you running in circles?

By Leonard Lauriault

We’re always busy where I work. Recently, we were having some really busy
days because we had many different tasks needing completed in a short
time, but there were lots of interruptions.
At one point, I interrupted one of my coworkers to see how things were
going. He said he felt like he was running in circles, to which I
responded, “That could be good. At least you’re on a well-beaten path that
should only be getting more firm, level, and clear. And you’re familiar
with the scenery.”

Our lives are a matter of running in circles that, although usually
seeming to be flat, are rather a spiraling two-way street. One way goes
up, the other way goes down (Matthew 7: 13, 14; Isaiah 14: 13-15; Proverbs
15: 24). Obviously, from the verses you just read, the upward way is the
only viable option.

Sometimes, because the road is nearly level, it’s hard to tell which way
is up or down. We can only be sure by using a map and guide (2 Timothy 3:
15-17; John 16: 13; Galatians 3: 26-4: 7; 1 Corinthians 2: 12-16). Jesus
is the only experienced guide to heaven (the place to which the upward way
leads, Philippians 3: 12-16) because he’s the only one to have come from
and returned to heaven (John 3: 13).

While on earth, he demonstrated how we should progress on the upward way
(John 13: 15-17; 14: 4, 6; 1 John 2: 6). Jesus also smoothed the path and
cleared the way for us to attain our heavenly destination (Isaiah 59: 1,
2; Ephesians 2: 13-18; Proverbs 15: 19; 3: 6; 4: 25-27).

While the upward way is level and smooth from our perspective (Isaiah 26:
7), it’s still an inclined plane, sometimes making the journey seem
unending and steeper than it really is, especially when we face
difficulties in life. Rest periods are permitted for weary travelers to
refocus on our guide and cast our cares on him (Hebrews 12: 1-4; 1 Peter
5: 5, 6). This allows us to remove every hindrance to our progress,
lightening our load by exchanging yokes with Jesus so we can get on up the
road (Matthew 11: 28-30; Acts 3: 19, 20).

Most people aren’t reading the map correctly, if they’re using it at all.
Along the upward way, we’ll meet some very nice people going the opposite
direction and we’ll pass, or be passed by some people who, from our
viewpoint, are not at all nice.

Others are just running around like chickens with their heads cut off.
Then there are those who are running in place. Among those making progress
in the right direction, some have longer legs, or they’re faster paced, or
they have more stamina, or all of the above, each of which allows them to
progress more quickly than those of us, like me, who’re short-legged,
short-sighted, slow-moving, and always out of breath.

As we run in our circles we become more familiar with the scenery because
it keeps coming back around. This scenery includes our fellow travelers,
whichever direction they’re going, without regard to their or our rate of
progress. It’s to our mutual benefit to be kind to them because we’re also
merely often-straying pilgrims who’re running in circles (Exodus 23: 9;
Leviticus 20: 34; Matthew 7: 12; Luke 6: 37, 38; Proverbs 11: 16-19).

Christians are the very people through whom God wants to demonstrate his
love to the world (Esther 4: 12-14; Acts 17: 26, 27; Ephesians 3: 7-12;
Luke 6: 27-36). He’ll bless us with more traveling companions if we
reflect his love onto others (1 Peter 3: 1, 2; 2:11, 12; 1 Timothy 4:
12-16; 2 Timothy 2: 24-26; 2 Corinthians 3: 18-4: 7; Luke 16: 1-9).

Love requires that we overlook some practices or behaviors we don’t like
because they don’t matter to the guide. An often-used phrase in the
circles in which I run goes, “In essentials unity, in nonessentials
liberty, in all things love.” Although not a Bible quotation, this is
based in such passages as John 13: 34, 35; 17: 16-21; Romans 6: 3-5; 12:
18; 14: 1; 15: 1-7; 5: 6-8; 1 Corinthians 1: 10-13; Ephesians 4: 1-16; and
1 Peter 4: 8. Unity isn’t compromise because unity can only be based in
the truth, of which there’s only one, just as there’s only one way and one
life to which that one way leads (John 14: 6; 10: 10).

What circles are you running in? Are you headed in the right direction and
influencing others to become your traveling companions (1 Corinthians 15:
33; 11: 17-29; 12: 12-27)?

Leonard Lauriault is a member of the church of Christ