God On Your Ipod Part 6: The Circle Of Life
On Sunday 27th August at our morning service, we finished our series God On Your Ipod with the topic 'The Circle Of Life'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to this, click here.
This week’s song “Circle of Life” comes from Disney’s “The Lion King”, promoted as: “Life’s greatest adventure is finding your place in the Circle of Life.”
Not many of us approach life as an adventure, instead thinking of it as something that we should plan.
When I was young, I was going to be a nurse and then later my plan was to go into finance and banking. None of that happened! I always thought that somewhere along the line I’d get married, have children & grandchildren - but that part of the plan didn’t work either!
I have learnt that there is no model or pattern for the perfect life, there are endless possibilities – as the song says “more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done.” My life is turning out to be more of an adventure than following a plan.
Many of you will have made plans for your life that didn’t work out; and you will have faced changes, junctions and road-blocks that you weren’t prepared for. We handle them in different ways.
The fundamental truth behind all of this is that “the circle of life” only works when it is operated as intended, with God at the heart. Finding our place in the circle of life is actually about taking our place in God’s family. That’s not something that is necessarily easy or straightforward to do.
Living our lives can be like going for a walk and crossing a field, we can follow the path or take a detour. In life we make decisions that impact the path we take, that may not take us on the same route as others around us – but ultimately we all get to the same critical decision points. Do we stay wandering in the field or do we head on through the gate? One of those critical decision points is whether we choose to take up our place in God’s family. To fully take that place, we need to recognise that God is always with us and that by journeying together we can face all that life brings.
In the film, Rafiki talks to Simba about Mufasa, his dead Father, living in him and how that can give him strength to follow his destiny. In real life, the truth is that God, who is very much alive, can live in us.
In a passage from his account of Jesus’s life in the New Testament part of the Bible; John explains this. You can read this by clicking here.
Jesus’s time on earth was short – and here He was preparing his friends & followers for His death, which was coming soon. He was reassuring them that He would rise again and live eternally, that He would not abandon them but be with them forever.
Jesus is promising His Followers that they need never be alone, that once they are part of His family then He is with them forever. And that doesn’t just apply to His followers then – it applies to us now and in the future, if we choose to follow Him.
Jesus says here that that becoming part of the family is as simple as loving Him and that means accepting His commandments and obeying them.
That doesn’t mean that we have to be perfect. As followers of Jesus, we are far from perfect and do not always succeed in obeying Jesus’s commands. However, we DO choose to accept them and live by them and do our best to obey them. As a result of that choice, we take our place in God’s family and have Him living in us - which gives us the strength to keep trying, keep moving forward.
At some point we all need to make the decision of how we respond to the challenges of life, what our part in the circle is going to be, how we are going to find our place “on the path unwinding.”
Simba reached a point where he had to choose what to do – and chose to go back, to face the hurt, to take up his place in the Circle of Life. We all know that the past can hurt – we can choose to run from it or to learn from it.
The song talks about the circle of life moving us through “despair and hope” through “faith and love.” Certainly that has been true of my adventure so far.
I had chosen to follow Jesus when I was a child and knew that I had my place in His family. There have been times of real despair – but God’s presence in my life gave me hope. I held onto my faith and through it I have experienced God’s love – both directly and through others.
We all need to learn from life’s adventures so far; and to choose to love Jesus, to accept and obey His commands.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)
1. Have you faced disruptions in your plans for your life? How have you handled them - what is your approach to life, your philosophy?
2. Do you strive for success on your own? Or are you happier working in a team, or surrounded by friends and family? Do you see yourself as being part of something bigger, this circle of life, or do you stand alone?
3. Do you see your life as an adventure? If so, what have you learnt from it so far? If not, how do you view your life?
4. Do you feel that you’ve found your place in the Circle of Life?
5. Read John Chapter 14: verses 16 to 21 a few times, maybe in different versions of the Bible. Does anything particular stand out for you?
6. Do you feel that you are part of God’s family? If so, what does that mean to you? If not, how would this make a difference in your life?
7. Consider how loving Jesus, accepting and obeying His commandments would / has changed your life – and whether you should make or recommit to this choice today.