How do we stay in faith in all the different seasons or cycles of life? I thought a practical way to consider this question is to use the analogy of laundry cycles.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly enjoy doing laundry, but the alternative is worse, which would be wearing dirty stinky clothing, or stepping out of the shower to a sour smelling towel.
Jesus said this to the disciples in John 16:33 NLT:
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
With this strange analogy, we could say that just as in this world, we will have trials and sorrows; in this world, we will have dirty laundry.
Just as there are cycles in life, there are cycles to doing laundry. We live in a world of changes, and sometimes these changes seem to go to extremes, from one end of the spectrum all the way to the other.
- In Missouri where I live, we typically enjoy four seasons of the year. There are changes that come with each of those seasons.
- In the natural sense, we have
- Day time and night time
- Rainy days and sunny days
- We celebrate the birth of a new baby and mourn the loss when another dies
Perhaps you are familiar with the most quoted passage of the Bible about this subject of seasons. You can read it in Ecclesiastes 3. This chapter describes the seasons we face in this life. As we cycle through these times of extremes, there is a place to stand in full confidence that you are never alone and God is on your side.
Some of the cycles are an act of God; some relate to the will of man. I also believe some are strategies from our enemy, who as we know is out to kill steal and destroy. That chapter tells us that everything under heaven is changeable, however, we can adapt to this because if we are a Christian, we serve an unchanging God.
Even though we find ourselves in different cycles of life, we do not have to cycle from faith to fear or faith to doubt.
THE WASH CYCLE
Using our analogy, let us consider the first cycle we typically start with, the wash cycle. I want you to try to go inside that wash machine in your mind and think about this cycle, it isn’t just water dumping in on top of you; there is agitation!
If we consider Joseph’s life in Scripture, he is a great example of someone who endured some agitating cycles in life. His brothers wanted to kill him by throwing him into a pit, but then decided to make a profit instead by selling him into slavery. He came out of that difficult season into one of blessing where he is elevated to leadership because of the favor of the Lord that was on his life.
Then later, after a false accusation by his Master’s wife, he found himself thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit! He still had the favor of the Lord on his life, which enabled him to interpret dreams. The use of this gift provided a way of escape from the prison and elevated him to a position as an overseer for the whole land of Egypt.
Sometimes the unpleasant cycles in life complete a work that otherwise could not be accomplished. We see this in the life of Joseph. God used the cycles of agitation to create something clean and wholesome in Joseph that prepared him for the work He had for him to do. In the end, Joseph acknowledged that it was God, not his siblings, who sent him ahead to Egypt (Genesis 45:5: 7-8).
Another example of this cycle is how a pearl forms. It starts with a foreign object like a parasite or a piece of shell that accidentally lodges itself in an oyster’s soft inner body. It causes agitation and irritation to the oyster, but the result is that the oyster excretes a smooth hard crystalline substance around the irritant to protect itself. Over time, this coating creates a lovely and lustrous gem called a pearl.
THE SPIN CYCLE
The second typical cycle of laundry is the spin cycle. Have you ever felt like your world is spinning out of control? Just like agitation, if I am facing the spin cycle I want to find the good in the situation. Spinning can create an opportunity to stir some things up in us.
I love the way the Passion Translation reads James 1:2-3:
2 My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! 3 For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things.
How many of us feel power stirred up within us when we are faced with difficulty? If we are honest, we may say sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.
I equate this concept to my analogy by comparing it to a big cover I put in my washing machine. After starting that cycle, I go on about my business and when it hits the spin cycle I start hearing this awful clunking sound. When I go in there and pause the cycle, I discover that the cover has gotten OUT OF BALANCE!
What I am saying is the spin cycle has the opportunity to stir up the power that is in you through Christ Jesus to endure all things, or the spinning can create an “OUT OF BALANCE” situation in your life.
I personally believe that how we respond to the spinning is what determines the difference? The devil likes to use the spin cycle of life to get you out of balance! That is why we are encouraged in 1 Peter 5:8 to be well balanced, because our enemy is looking for every opportunity to devour us!
Let me share a tip for keeping your balance during the spin cycle of life. We can learn this from figure skaters or professional dancers, who spin at unbelievable speeds, yet never lose their balance. They employ a technique called “Spotting”, where they keep their body moving at a constant speed but fix their gaze on one spot. These professionals have to train to overcome the response our eyes have to this kind of movement.
When you are in the spin cycle of life, the key is to fix your gaze on God, who is the author and finisher of our faith! This does not come naturally, you have to train yourself to focus on God and not the problems.
THE RINSE CYCLE
The next typical cycle of laundry is the rinse cycle. It is during this cycle that many add fabric softener. I personally like the way adding Downey to my rinse cycle makes my clothes feel and smell, but I really hate how messy it can be. The compartment used for this purpose often becomes all gummed up and difficult to clean. Some people may have the attitude that the benefit just isn’t worth the effort.
When you come out of the agitation and then the spin cycle, you have an opportunity to become bitter or better. I believe the latter is the correct choice. The key to this cycle is to allow life’s difficulties to soften us, not harden us! This can be a challenging goal to achieve but I believe the solution comes through an optional cycle that I have not mentioned yet.
PRETREAT AND SOAK
Before you go into the wash cycle with agitation, even before you go through the spinning, and before you go through the softening…..you can pretreat and soak.
I personally like to pretreat with a product called “Shout”! This is true in my spiritual life too! Before I face the cycles of life, I make a habit of spending quality devotional time with the Lord, shouting His praises, and soaking in His presence. It is in this discipline that I quickly remember that I am never alone in any season. He is with me in the good times and in the bad. My God is bigger than any cycle I will face and He cares about the things we endure, and He can use all things for good.
I hope my laundry analogy has caused you to see a difficult season of life from a different perspective. Try to always remember that it is in your shout and your praise, it is in your intimacy with your God that you are enabled to not only survive the cycles of life, but thrive in them and develop the character and endurance that is needed to walk out the destiny that God has for you!