When Life Keeps Spinning
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate … For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” Romans 7:15,18b-19 (ESV)
The Lord knows we’ve all tried to change some things. About ourselves. Other people. Even helping change the world. We’ve tried and tried, with little real change to show from all these spinning circles.
Now most everybody I know is tired. When you’re tired and your spirit is heavy, the heart begins to mumble the saddest word — Whatever.
I may not know many things, but spinning in circles, weariness, mumbling — I could teach a master’s class in those.
I have longed for spiritual and emotional maturity: to improve myself, to have greater discipline, for quick obedience when the Holy Spirit leads, to be a woman growing in wisdom, patience and grace, who is being changed and redeemed.
God has moved powerfully in my life. But mercy, I could cry over all the times I abandoned His power, taking two steps forward then running half a mile back. Too many years wasted when life spins in circles, going nowhere.
The apostle Paul must have known something about spinning in circles, too, as he wrote about his own inability to change:
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate ... For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:15, 18b-19).
Can I tell you how it humbles me to read those words in my Bible? We rarely encounter that kind of vulnerability and transparency, yet as he continues, we can feel the agony and hopelessness in Paul’s words: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24, ESV)
I imagine if the truth were told, a part of you wonders, Who will deliver me? Who will deliver me from my pain? My regret? My habits? My choices? My secrets? My sin? Who will deliver me from these crazy circles? Who will deliver me from ... whatever?
The deep ruts I’ve dug spinning circles only prove that the woman I long to become will not be created by my own hands. I can’t make the person I envision happen. Lord knows I’ve tried. I desperately need Someone to rescue me, shape me, lead me, walk with me and take me the rest of the way.
Thankfully, we find comfort in what Paul says in the next two verses:
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 7:25, 8:1, ESV).
I belong to Jesus now. This struggle cannot keep shaming me. Jesus took my condemnation to the cross. And there is therefore now no condemnation for me.
No matter my struggles. Or failures. No matter how stinking awful my track record, if I belong to Jesus Christ, “There is therefore now no condemnation.”
God left heaven to save you, heal you and redeem you. He knows your vulnerabilities and sees your pain. How you keep spinning in circles, revisiting the same places, disappointing the same people, listening to the same lies.
The old patterns. The insecurities. The stupid habits. The addictions. All the ways you show you can’t improve and can’t get unstuck. He knows you cannot change yourself. And that has always been the point: You can’t. But God can.
God never designed us to spin in circles, staying the same, growing more frustrated and discouraged every year. We were made to grow and change. God’s power to redeem our lives — and keep redeeming — is how we grow and mature. We can try to dig down to find our bootstraps all we want, but God has so much more in mind.
When my great need accepts God’s great love, redemption begins. I can’t. But He can.
Oh Father, You see our sin, and long before we knew, You promised a way to forgiveness, to restoration and a way to be redeemed. Move powerfully in our hearts. Open our eyes. Give new life to our prayers. Stir our souls awake. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 145:18, “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (ESV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Open your Bible and read Romans 7:15 until the end of the chapter. Paul took an inventory of his great need. What’s your greatest need?