Draw a sacred circle around yourself

Delores, Loretta, Nadine. Sheryl and Susan. A few others and myself. Our circle of friends has met for years. We connect online, too, but mostly we gather weekly. Same time, same place. We each bring our own lunch, everything from drive-through salad to slow-cooked soup and fresh-baked muffins. Or nothing at all. That would be Loretta.

Sometimes only two meet, but occasionally six walk through the door. Then we all get giddy for a moment.

Different roads have led to our place of intersection; separate backgrounds and experiences. But we have a common denominator – a passion to stay fit. Spiritually. We meet to study the Bible, to compare notes on our faith journeys and to encourage each other as we follow the Jesus we love.

We have no designated leader, but we use a common resource; a daily online Bible study found at First5.org. (There’s even a convenient app for the phone.) We talk about which daily readings poked us most and why. Sometimes, they feel extra relevant.

Recently we read 2 Kings 23, the account of a truly rare Judean king. Josiah lived generations before Jesus Christ, in an era when the nation of Judah freely practiced things God had forbidden. Idol worship, abominable pagan rites, child sacrifice, even cannibalism.

Josiah became king at eight years old. From the start, he distinguished himself among a string of wicked kings by “doing what was right in God’s sight.” His lack of spiritual compromise, unswerving devotion and obedience to God, no matter what others thought, said, or did, defined his life.

Horrified by Judah’s embrace of sin; Josiah began making changes. He didn’t call for more spending, tougher penalties for criminals or greater respect for individual rights. Instead, he began a nation-wide spiritual cleanup.

The task seemed impossible. First he brought back into national attention the Book of the Covenant – the early scriptures of the Hebrew people that reminded them who they were and whose they were. (A holy people, chosen by God.) He confronted and banished one detestable practice after another.

Finally, realizing how their utter depravity had grieved God, Judah repented. We remember Josiah as the king responsible for turning a country’s heart back to God – but only for a generation. Judah was a stubborn nation; sinful habits, even more so.

“Everything comes down to integrity, doesn’t it?” someone asked. More questions followed from around the circle. What does integrity mean for us as Christians living in a similar spiritual climate? Do those I live and work and spend time with find me a person of integrity? Have I blinded myself to spiritual compromise?

We left our circle thinking. Praying for God to point out our weak areas. For willingness to change.

When trying to get in shape, most of us focus on diet and physical habits, ignoring our spiritual hunger. Want to grow strongest in the things that matter for eternity? Open your Bible. And draw a similar circle around yourself – a sacred circle.