Wednesday, January 23, 2013

INSPIRATION | Wandering in Circles

It seems I’ve spent many years of my life going around in circles.
In your job or other areas of responsibility, do things operate in cycles? Do you catch yourself saying, “Yep, it’s February. That means it’s time to do X again, and we need to do it in Y fashion because that’s the way it needs to be done”? And can you remember sitting in that same spot last year saying the same thing? It might be a seasonal project, or the end of a fiscal year, or for students, final exam time.
If you’re a creative person (or maybe not), it can drain your creativity. When you realize you’ve traveled in the same circle over and over again, it can trigger a quick re-evaluation of your life. It can become painfully obvious that you’ve fallen short of your goals. Or it can cause you to wonder if you’ve harmed your future by staying in one spot for what feels like far too long.
Around and around. Nothing appears to change.
But the key word in that sentence might be “appears.” After all, things aren’t always what they appear to be.
I’m in some cycles right now.

So a few minutes ago, I got back from a walk on a cold, winter evening in St. Louis. As I walked, I got honest with God like I often do. And I figure He knows everything about me anyway, so my attitude with Him was, “Lord, why do I need to go through the same crap over and over again? Other people get to move forward with X or Y, and but I need to spend more time in this cycle that doesn’t seem to change.”

For those of you who read my blog and aren’t already aware, I’m a Christian, albeit one who’s pretty far from perfect. Whatever goes on in my life, I tend to view it through the lens of faith, the Bible, and those bits of revelation God gives you along the way. And I believe big time that God has a long-range plan. So much so, that I’ve said to Him many times, “I sure hope You’ve got my life and calling and job details taken care of, because if You don’t, I’m in big trouble!”

Maybe ten minutes later after mentioning the cycle thing, God reminds me of a Bible verse about the potter and the clay:
“Does clay talk back to the potter: ‘What are you doing? What clumsy fingers!” (Isaiah 45:9 The Message)

“Yep, You’re right God.” God has a plan. He’s shaping the future.

Then, another mile or so into my walk, it got even better.

Have you ever seen a potter using a pottery wheel? It starts out as a lump. It spins around and around, and not much seems to happen. Just the same thing, over and over. Talk about boring, not to mention slow.

At first, it doesn’t look like the spinning does that clay any good. But soon, as the potter uses his hands, the clay starts to take shape. You can’t detect a big difference with each individual revolution, but combine those cycles together …

It gains height. More revolutions. The body gains a unique shape. More revolutions. A lip forms along the top. And so on.
With each revolution, further refining takes place.

More often than we prefer, the cycles in our lives seem like such a waste of time. We don’t see progress. But maybe that’s just the way it appears.
Maybe the truth is different. Could it be that, with each cycle. God is fine-tuning the nuances of our lives, adding patience here, adding endurance there, tweaking a skill or attitude there. And we might not see the payoff until years down the road—when we’re glad we went through that mundane process. We learned what works well. We also learned what doesn’t work well.

With some things, I’m so glad I learned from a mistake when the mistake didn’t matter much. Maybe God knows if I’d made that same mistake in a future scenario, it would have cost an awful lot.

I’m thankful God works those mistakes in our favor too. I’ve learned He can work all things together for my good, even when I’ve screwed up to an extent only He can repair:
“But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make” (Jeremiah 18:4 NASB).
What? The clay shifted out of place and its arm fell off? Perhaps you made a major mistake. Or maybe a friend or loved one broke your heart, left a gaping hole, and doesn’t really care that the broken piece is just sitting on the dirty ground.
Whatever it is, the Potter can work that piece of clay back into the vessel. And when He does, what’s fascinating is that oftentimes, no one else can tell anything went wrong. It looks as if your life came together like it was supposed to.

Probably because the Potter knew the mistakes we’d make before we’d ever made them—and just worked them into His plan when He mapped out our lives. (“Okay, we’re gonna need to factor in a pit stop right there…”)

So we go around and around and around. And with each revolution, we get refined a little more … and a little more … and a little more …

Your life does matter. You’re never beyond hope.

I’ve clung to that truth so often, I’ve lost count. I hope it was the exact encouragement you needed today.

Never give up!

John Herrick

Today’s playlist: Hunter Hayes, Hunter Hayes (LOVING this album!)


  1. Thanks John for generously sharing your heart again. Not only that, but an excellent job of saying "we" rather than "I." ....LOVE THAT.

  2. Ha thanks Kelly. No need to cheat on the "I" this time, I suppose! :-)