Shortening the Circle of Redemption
I make a lot of mistakes. So do my boys. One thing I teach my boys – and desperately try to remember myself – is the importance of reducing the distance traveled between sin and restoration.
Remember those Hot Wheels tracks we played with as kids? The orange segments were not only perfect for car routing but also doubled well as brother-beaters. We would string them together and add a battery powered machine that shot the cars around the track. That was back in the day when we had just basic segments, not all them fancy loop-the-loops kids have these days!
Our sin pattern is a bit like taking a lap around the track:
1. First, we act outside the will of God and start a trek around the oval (sin)
2. Around turn one we see our mistake, maybe because a friend intervened (awareness)
3. In the second turn, we experience the sinking realization that we blew it (conviction)
4. Turn three finds us humbled and striving to make things right (repentance)
5. Finally, we cross the forgiveness finish line and are back in synch (restoration)
This “circle” tends to repeat itself in our life. Our sin may be an egregious one with huge life implications or a more garden variety misdemeanor. The same steps remain.
I cannot prevent 100% of my sin. Just as Paul lamented the gap between the desiring and the doing, some days I drop the ball despite my best intentions. Clearly, the goal is to sin less often. But, I also want to be intentional regarding the process I go through when I have messed up.
My mission is two-fold as I mature: shorten the length of track (take out some sections) and accelerate through the turns (speed up the wheels). I want the sin-to-restoration distance to be as small as possible. Instead of sinning in January and apologizing in July, I want to sin at 3:05 and apologize by 3:30.
Consider when the prophet Nathan confronted David about his sin with Bathsheba. Once David’s sin was exposed, he quickly moved through the turns. That did not diminish his sin or protect him from consequences, but it did allow him to quickly regain his footing with the Lord and with others.
This is a virtuous circle. As I am parenting my sons, if I can help them learn to shorten the track and move swiftly through the turns, they are better off and their relationships are strengthened.
Sure, this metaphor has its limitations. We are not trapped in a perpetual loop of sinful behavior. We cannot always quickly unravel our sin’s impacts. And really, when we sin, we are getting “off track,” not on it. I know.
Even so, the metaphor can help us discern some key things:
* Are we afraid of being on the track at all? Do we resist accountability?
* What portion of the track is roughest or takes us the longest to move through?
* Have we experienced the thrill of crossing the forgiveness finish line?
Give this a try with someone you love the next time they blow it.
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