I use to think this journey that Jesus and I are on looked like a ray. Do you remember your Geometry? A ray has a beginning point and then continues on in the same direction towards infinity. There is no other end point, just a straight, narrow path to forever.
I thought when I decided to follow Jesus, I’d tuck right in behind Him and just follow as He led me onward and forward, continually progressing towards holiness and righteousness until He pushed open the gates of Heaven and invited me inside.
In my mind, my spiritual journey resembled a sort of follow the leader type relationship. The goal was to stay close, keep my eyes focused on Jesus, and move step by step, steadily down the line towards our destination.
I wasn’t entirely wrong, but the line doesn’t look like the ray we learned in Geometry class. If we’re sticking with the theme of analogies from school, my faith journey has looked more like the loopy cursive letter L that we carefully linked together across the pages of our writing practice paper.
Progress has been cyclical. I move forward, yes, but I also occasionally make mistakes, poor decisions, get lazy, and give in to sin. Then, I circle back, confess, repent, turn back to God, and continue on down the path until, in my humanity, I do it again.
Loop, after loop. Move forward, sin and circle back, confess and repent, accept forgiveness and mercy from God, walk forward in His grace and love, make mistakes, circle back, repeat.
To be honest, it can get a little frustrating. I remember years ago, when feeling a bit defeated by somethings that seemed to be a continual struggle, a dear friend woefully lamented that she felt like she should be much farther along spiritually and didn’t think that this far into her faith journey she’d still be struggling with the same old “minor” sins that so easily keep surfacing in our lives.
You know the ones; envy, pride, anger, gossip, ingratitude, selfishness, and the like. Ones that mature believers hope to have completely moved past, but still find themselves circling back to confess, repent, and accept forgiveness for over and over again.
I may get frustrated with myself for the cyclical nature of this journey and so may my sweet friend. I’d even venture to guess that this sounds a little familiar to you, too. But I really don’t believe God feels that way as He looks at us.
I don’t believe that He’s sitting on the throne of Heaven shaking His head and tsk-tsking us for falling short of perfection, yet again. Why? Because He created us. He knows we’re just flesh. He sees our heart and knows that it is for Him. He loves us unconditionally, even in our messiest places.
In fact, I think He’s beaming at us with eyes full of compassion, grace, mercy, and joy. I believe His heart swells when one of His children circles back around to confess a sin they feel conviction about. Of course, He isn’t celebrating our sin. God is holy, righteous, and pure. To celebrate sin would be against His very nature.
I do believe that He celebrates a humble confession, a repentant heart, and a faithful follower. I know that He is forgiving, kind, and good. Even more importantly, because of His matchless love, we are welcomed every time we turn to Him.
1 John 1:9 NIV says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
So, I loop and loop, circling back in confession and repentance every time I fail. God extends His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. The loop closes in sweet connection and I continue on in this journey of faith in Jesus, knowing that when I fail, the cycle continues because there is never a moment He leaves or forsakes me. There is never a moment He loses patience and throws in the towel or lets the chain of loopy cursive letter L’s be broken.
The same is true for you, sweet Sister. He is for us. In love, grace, and mercy, His love propels us forward. Our mistakes don’t make Him turn from us, they give us the opportunity to practice confession and repentance, press in closer, and experience forgiveness and restoration. We are always welcomed back and loved forward, loop after loop, because His love is that incredible.
Father God, Thank you that you don’t lose patience with us. You don’t frown down on us in frustration when we fail. You know our weakness and you extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness when we confess, repent, and turn back to you. You always welcome us back and you love us forward. You never grow tired of the journey because you know each loop grows in us a humble heart and a deeper love for you. Thank God, for your patience with us and your love towards us.