HomeFaithDooley Noted: Life’s unbroken cycle

Dooley Noted: Life’s unbroken cycle

Who will our next president be? Who will be the best team in college football next year? How much higher will inflation rise? How will the heat of this summer compare to previous years? Where is the safest place to invest your money? Where is the best place to vacation with your family? What will happen in the Middle East after Iran’s attack on Israel? Answers to questions like these are impossible to predict.

Our best efforts to forecast personal outcomes or national news are destined to fail. The blindness of life keeps all of us guessing when it comes to the future (James 4:14-15). So much of our shared existence is unpredictable. Yet, certain patterns often emerge that do prove to be helpful as we plot the rhythm of our lives. Routine cycles govern the pace of our circumstances even if they do not nuance the particulars of every situation that comes our way.

The predetermined cycle of seasons, for example, provides the backdrop for all that happens to us. We shiver through the winter. We anticipate the spring. We endure the summer. We look forward to fall. And then, the same journey repeats itself year after year. Consider the familiar path of water as well. Rain falls from the heavens, collects on the earth, evaporates from the surface, and accumulates in clouds only to follow the same process again. These fixed realities are as consistent as the earth’s rotation or clock’s ticking.

In a similar way, a common sequence emerges as we chart our relationship with God over a period of time. Examining the spiritual ups-and-downs of ancient Israel reveals a painfully familiar spiral away from God before returning to Him (Judges 2). Sure, the temptations and struggles will vary from person to person to person, but the cycle of waywardness and restoration is quite predictable. Typically, all of us are in one of six categories as we live out our faith.

  • We show dedication to God.
  • We become disillusioned with God.  
  • We are disobedient to God.
  • We face God’s discipline.
  • We become desperate for God.
  • We receive God’s deliverance.

Obviously, complete dedication to the Lord is how all true believers aspire to live. Remembering all that Christ sacrificed for us is key to maintaining our commitment (Judges 2:7). We cannot ride the experience of others if we want to live holy lives. Each generation must choose the path of faithfulness for itself.     

Sadly, we are often quick to become disillusioned with God, ironically, due to the blessings of God in our lives. Rather than respond with hearts of gratitude, we sometimes perceive ourselves to be entitled to His provisions. A generation that does not know the Lord will be quick to squander His good gifts (Judges 2:10). The surest sign of disillusionment is the discomfort we sometimes feel with talk of faith, obedience, and holiness. When God’s Word seems old-fashioned to our modern ears, we’ve taken a step away from the Lord.

Next comes the season of disobedience. Ultimately, Israel forsook the God of their fathers and worshipped false gods (Judges 2:11-12). We, too, choose to disobey our Savior far more than we care to admit, chasing the idols that capture our hearts. Much like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, we put question marks where God has placed periods. Did God really say is the mantra of a rebellious spirit. During this stage we justify what God hates and ridicule those who dare to disagree.

Contrary to the reckless permissiveness of our day, God’s love for us does not demand His affirmation our carnality. The chastening discipline of God is just as real as His unwavering commitment to His people (Judges 2:14). The perversions of Israel evoked the anger of the Lord, leading to His swift correction. Our wickedness does the same. Just as earthly fathers discipline their children with genuine care and concern, so does our heavenly Father (Heb. 12:5-11) .

Finally, in desperation we often cry out to God in repentance (Judges 2:15). These moments of renewal and recommitment lead to the deliverance that we need. God saves us from the consequences of our defiance and opens the door for us to be dedicated again. In the Old Testament, He did so through judges who rescued the Jewish people from their enemies (Judges 2:16). Unfortunately, when each leader died, the downward spiral of transgressions started all over again.

Thus, God is willing to set us free from this cycle of sin through the sacrificial work of His Son. Though He was dead, He is alive, and He lives forever to make intercession for His saints (Heb. 7:25). Whatever category you might be in today, God has made a way for you to be fully dedicated to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Dr. Adam B. Dooley is pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, TN, and author of Hope When Life Unravels. Contact him at adooley@ebcjackson.org. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBDooley.

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