First, there are natural cycles: day and night, the seasons, birth and death, and so on. Cyclicality is baked into the very fabric of the universe.
Then there are what we might call cyclical systems, the most obvious example being the expansion and contraction, boom and bust of economic cycles.
Human behaviour also seems to fall into cycles. People hurt us, and we end up hurting others. We do unto others as it has been done unto us. The abused becomes the abuser. Even our language reflects the cyclicality of our world: what goes around comes around, you reap what you sow, and so forth.
So many of our struggles seem to come down to the fact that we’re caught in cycles that stop us from growing into greater freedom. In fact, if you think about it, you can’t have real freedom if you’re caught inside a cycle: however far you manage to move in any given direction, the cycle will eventually pull you back in the opposite direction.
It often seems that no matter how hard we try, we cannot escape the cycle. It’s as though we need some external agent to break the cycle and set us free from its inexorable pull.
Thankfully, we have just such an external agent. God, specifically in and through the person and work of Jesus, breaks the cycles that hold us captive. But he doesn’t stop there; he recycles the very things that bind and defeat us and brings new life out of them:
He recycles judgement into forgiveness.
He recycles wounds into sources of healing.
He recycles suffering into compassion and enemy-love.
He recycles coercion and oppression into self-sacrifice.
He recycles despair into hope.
He recycles darkness into light.
In short, he recycles death into life.
Our God is the God who recycles. He’s the God who takes our garbage, decay and death and in exchange gives us freedom, possibility and life. All we have to do is come to him and acknowledge the futility of the cycles in which we are entrenched, and be prepared to let go of our hold on them (we might call this “dying to self”). If we do this, and if we’re prepared to allow his spirit to work in us, he’ll break us out of our cycles of death and set us on a new path of life. He’ll exchange our vicious cycles for virtuous cycles.
That sounds like a good trade to me. Any takers?
[ Image: Eric ]