The world is a cycle. The sun rises and goes down at certain times. Seasons change around the same time yearly. Not only does the world move in cycles but we do as people. There is no new thing under the sun. We go through a basic cycle of:
obedience -> comfort -> struggle -> disobedience -> bondage -> repentance -> salvation
We may experience slight variations here and there but our pattern is more or less the same. I have often heard the term break the cycle so I thought to apply it here. I soon realized that trying to break the cycle keeps us from experiencing certain things necessary for our growth.
For example: Breaking at disobedience or bondage may result in you walking away from God entirely. Take another step to repentance and you're on the doorstep of salvation. Breaking at comfort may shield you from the struggle that builds your endurance.
When we don't work through our cycle, stagnation is the outcome. An outcome we should strive to avoid, as where we stagnate often determines our fate. The 2nd chapter of Peter illustrates a constant path of growth in the use of the words "add to". We continuously grow and develop as God brings us closer to him. The key being not necessarily to break our cycle but to start a new one.
obedience -> comfort -> struggle -> repentance -> salvation
We are after all a new creature. A new creature should not engage with an old cycle. One should not place new wine in old wineskins.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
A live excercise
Throughout the old Old Testament, God consistently recapped our life choices. One such place was Hosea 13. Every choice we make has a potential consequence attached to it.
Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.
What do we do against lions, leopards and bears? David provided us with an approach. His encounter reminds us that it's not about you and it's not about me. A sacrifice first mentality allows us to conquer and to reclaim.
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”
God reminds us of our self-destructive ways and the harm we bring upon ourselves through sorrows like a woman in travail. Within this time, our love towards him and others grows cold.
“All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
For many, this may be the proverbial "breaking point". How do we proceed from here? At the onset of Hosea chapter 14, we are told to return to God. We repent.
“Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.”
The action of taking our words to God suggests communication with him in a form of prayer or even praise. Within this, we also find the grace of God.
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”
“Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance”
Our lips and our hearts were once entirely unclean as we dwelled amongst and were partakers of the uncleanness of the world.
“Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
When the angel or ministering spirit of God touched Isaiah's lips, it also signified his heart was clean. A touch of fire from the Most High sanctifies us. We are given cover from our sorrows through the sealing of the Holy Spirit. May God usher you into your new cycle. Live in grace, walk in peace and be blessed.
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire”