“Nothing is ever over. You thread things on your life
and think you’ve finished with them but you haven’t because it’s like beads on a string and they come around again. “When it comes around again then if it is possible, give what you failed to give before to someone else. You will have made reparation, for we are all one person.”
Elizabeth Goudge, ‘The Scent of Water’, c. 1963
My eyes were closed as we drove home in the dark from our days’ excursion to the mountains. I was having a silent conversation with Jesus, “Forgive me, Lord, for my short attitude today with my husband. For my sarcasm and biting words. Forgive me for my selfishness with my sister, my mother-in-law, my disrespect…” I had had this conversation a few too many times and frankly I was tiring of it. In God’s goodness, though, the Holy Spirit brought this quote above to mind and my heart was calmed. Instead of beating myself up with, “I should be further along (more mature, less abrasive) by now, I sensed the graciousness of God speaking.
The fact of the matter is, as much as I’d like to imagine my life begins at A and goes on to Z, the truth is Life is NOT a LINE, IT IS A CIRCLE. Much like the beads on my favorite green necklace, placed just so in random spacing. Taking that metaphor–necklace as model for lifewalk–I imagine these as markers of all those do-overs I meet so frequently. But the good news? They are farther and farther apart. The shape of the circle grows in ever-widening arcs as God adds to my life, layer upon layer. From glory to glory. There is more grace between the spaces.
No, life is NOT a straight line, like tearing the pages from a calendar, marking off days in a manageable sequence. It is a continual turning, growing in a process of picking things up, putting things down, trying things out, trying things on, throwing things away.
I am reminded of one of my favorite old hymns ‘Simple Gifts’
“Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free
Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we are in a place just right
Til by turning, turning, we come ’round right.”
The Shakers were right–we turn and turn ’til we come ’round right, at home in the presence of Jesus. And along the way we place memorial stones, altars that say, “I died here. I gave up here. I rejoiced here. I grew here. I want to remember this.”
Scripture says we are ALL being changed into His likeness from ‘glory to glory.’ But it will be an ongoing, life long process, a pilgrimage that takes us on a daily path towards Heaven. The pathway features markers, with grace between the spaces, reminding us of how far we’ve come and what He has done. And if we retrace our steps and find ourselves in the same place as before it is good to remember where we’ve been challenged and how much we have changed.
J.R. R. Tolkien says it well in The Fellowship of the Ring,
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”
Our lives are a continual journey on the pathways God has designed, a continual turning. Nothing is ever over until we are home with Him.
Praise His name.