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The Joy of Hoop Trundling

October 14, 2016

The childhood game of hoop trundling has been around for many centuries and can be traced back to the days of ancient Rome, Africa, Greece, Europe, and even the Byzantine Empire of the first century. It was a terrific diversion for children and teenagers who needed to let off some steam; exert much of their pent-up physical energy; compete by demonstrating their mastery of the hoop trundling game; while filling the void of time and endless boredom that often afflicts many young souls. It is a game that can be played by the poor and rich alike. The game knows no racial boundaries, geographical or economic constraints. If you can find a nice round object that you can coax along a path, then you are in the game! A simple wagon wheel, bicycle wheel, hula hoop, or any round object that can be guided along with a stick will suffice. While reading my daily devotions in the book of Numbers, I was reminded that this childhood game has significant spiritual parallels for Christians of all ages.

In the game of hoop trundling, you first choose the wheel or round object you’ll use. Once selected, the wheel will be used for the duration of the race. Similarly, hasn’t God chosen us since the foundation of the world? Hasn’t He called us unto Himself without preference to race, creed, or color? By accepting that free gift of salvation don’t we also have the opportunity to run and finish the race, while having eternal security in Him? He also tells us that He will never leave or forsake us.

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30)

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

Subsequently, once your wheel has been identified and chosen, you then must gently propel and guide the wheel along the difficult path of the “obstacle course” that lies ahead. The “trundler” uses a stick to help the wheel remain on its proper course. When playing the game, the stick helps guide the hoop from the back, middle, sides, or even the front. Ultimately, you want to keep the hoop moving forward (on the path to success) on a surface that is void of rocks, potholes, or other impediments that will keep you from reaching your final destination. Once the wheel and the path have been selected, you then want to avoid looking back making sure that you keep your eyes straight ahead. In the game of hoop trundling, looking back takes your focus off the road or path ahead which could derail your efforts to win the race. In other words, you want to avoid crashing and burning in the race. Likewise, Christ warns us not to look back and indulge ourselves in our former sinful ways. He wants us to put on the new man and walk in the newness of life. He doesn’t want us to get distracted from the things that are pure, righteous, and holy. He wants us to look straight ahead for the joys and trials of the Christian life which help shape our character.

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1)

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Romans 6:6)

Yes, there is a tremendous amount of navigation and care that goes into this hoop trundling endeavor. There are times when you simply tap and guide the hoop or wheel along its route, while at other times, more severe adjustments and guidance (while on the fly) are needed because of the treacherous terrain. Each movement and adjustment is made with an eye toward the prize. When we compare this to how God lovingly corrects and admonishes us, we begin to understand and relate to the fact that God is keeping us from much heartache and trouble with His guiding hand. He wants us to avoid the treacherous terrain of sin, iniquity, and strife. God has our best interests at heart and wants to conform us to the image of His Son: Jesus Christ. He also wants us to keep our eyes on the prize. Our God on-high will give us the proportional guidance and correction needed to keep us on that narrow path to God’s will.  

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

When we think about both hoop trundling and our journey in life, each has forces that continue to narrow the way that leads us to victory! For the “trundler”, he has the stick of gentle correction, guidance, and direction. He may even need to abruptly and aggressively make course corrections, if necessary. The “trundler” must stand ready to be in the exact position needed when correction is warranted. In the end, the hoop trundler who finishes the race gets to celebrate. For the Christian, like the story of Balaam in the book of Numbers, the Lord will stand in our way to block our progress and chastise us if we are headed in the wrong direction. He will also narrow our way and limit our choices when He feels that it is necessary. God our Father wants what is best for His children. He, too, stands ready to meet our every need. He is a God of love and will use whatever means necessary to get our attention and keep us on the narrow path of Christianity! A gentle and loving reminder, the complex circumstances of life, encouragement and wise counsel from fellow believers, and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit are all at His disposal for our spiritual maturation.

“And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.” (Numbers 22:26)

Christian, are you looking straight ahead with an eye toward the prize or are you glancing over your shoulder to the sins of yesteryear? Are you being distracted by the potholes, rocks, and other impediments of life? Does it seem like you have lost your way and the rod of correction is vividly apparent? Is God standing in the way and narrowing your choices? If so, just ask a loving and generous Savior for forgiveness, and allow the Word of God to consume your every thought! In so doing, God will illuminate His perfect will for your life. The exciting news for Christians is that God has prepared a place called heaven. When we finish the hoop trundling race of life, we get to rest in His holy presence and celebrate His glory! Amen!    


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