We think of our spiritual progress as a straight line.

Not so.


For me anyway.

Yes, I know, our moral walk should turn neither left nor right off God’s way, but I’m thinking of another facet of Christian life: our growth…

I was in an emotional pit, trying—still, even at my age—to get my bearings, God’s direction. It seemed all I ever did was go around in circles, like some poor ignoramus lost in the woods.

I took the issue to God, wrestled with it, with my thinking, so stuck in its negative groove.

“Stuck in a groove” pictures a record with a crack or scratch making it repeat the same sequence, over and over, as it goes ‘round and ’round. However, a phonograph needle ordinarily makes continual forward progress through a song by going around and around. I failed to consider that, stuck as I was.

I drew a ragged spiral, representing my walk—and sighed.

But then, a word, an image came into my mind,


A helix goes continually around—but simultaneously progresses upwards.

With that insight, I cut on the lines I’d drawn, lifted their center point upward…

and suddenly I saw my path toward God! Like a vine wrapping a pole or tree—or cross—around and around, reaching, growing, ever upward, toward the light.

And I wondered, was Jacob’s ladder a helix, a spiral staircase? Could be. I was now assured my ladder was, anyhow.

I recalled a former pastor’s frequent urging us “Higher up and further in” to God’s Kingdom. I was now seeing the helix of his principle.

Yes! Constantly moving higher up the spiral ladder, ever further into Kingdom life,

That is my Christian pilgrimage!

After all, which does God care about more: My choice of straight line paths between earthly points (as, job or geographical move A to B, A to C, A to D…) or whether I move steadily upward, nearer Him and His kingdom?

The mountain of the Lord is very steep. A cliff? The only way to its summit (for a shaky climber like me) is a path that clings to the mountainside as it continually rises, around and around, ever aimed toward the apex in God.

Paul pursued this ever-onward and upward path with a passion. “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phl 3:14)—the aim toward which he told the Colossians to focus: above, where our lives “are now hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:1-3).

Excelsior!” also carries that same meaning—”Onward and upward!”

I don’t feel so bad now about going around in circles in morally neutral decision making, as long as I’m aiming right up toward God Himself, spiraling ever higher “to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me,” and not spiraling into self by the ever-moving introspection that swirls down and down into darkness—or lies flat dead, without dimension, life, aspiration.

So… onward and upward, around and around, heavenward, toward God, clinging to the Christ and His cross.


2 thoughts on “Pilgrimage, in Circles?

    1. Heh heh. Well, you already knew I’m nearly always going around in circles!

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