Do We Have It All Wrong?

Gwen Smith Blog, Christian Living, Confession, Faith, Priorities 38 Comments

I once listened to a talk on the foundations of contemporary discipleship given by scholar and apologist Ravi Zacharias. Toward the end of his lecture, Ravi spoke of a conversation he had with a former Muslim who had become a Christian. The gentleman humbly explained to Mr. Zacharias that there is a compelling contrast between the way he was taught as a Muslim to view faith and the way he sees faith being perceived in the lives of many Christians.

He drew a circle and a small dot inside the circle.

After this, he drew another circle and a small dot in the other circle.

Then he told Ravi that since he’d become a Christian, what he sees is that the circle of the Christian seems to be his life, and the dot is his faith. The contrast is that when he was a Muslim, he was taught that the circle was to be his faith and the dot his life.

Zacharias asked him what he thought about the contrast.

Essentially, the former Muslim’s response to Ravi was this, “As Christians we’ve got it all wrong. We’ve got it all wrong! God should be first. The circle. Everything else should be the dot.”

I heard this story and a hush fell over my heart. Conviction. Embarrassment. I felt as if I’ve been found out.

Because I often perceive life as being all about ME.

Me. Me. Me.

Questions rise in my mind. Do I really worship God above all else? Am I designed and created to live for Him or for me? Do I center my life around the One who gives life – or do I simply “include” Him among the many small dots?

The fire of conviction warms me. Bends my knees. I know the answer to these questions. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30)

Yes… this.

I breathe in His deep grace and, once again, am thankful that the kindness of the Lord leads me to repentance and recalibrates my heart to His. He refocuses my mind and redirects my soul toward what really matters.

And I pray the words of the old hymn penned by Adelaide A. Pollard:


Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!

Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.

Mold me and make me after Thy will,

While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!

Search me and try me, Master, today!

Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,

As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!

Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!

Power, all power, surely is Thine!

Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!

Hold o’er my being absolute sway!

Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see

Christ only, always, living in me.


Dear Lord,
You are the circle. I am the dot. Forgive me for the times – the many, many times – when I invert this. Let me be found in You – in adoration of You, led by Your Spirit, washed in Your grace. Help me live for You today.
In Jesus’ name,



Don’t gloss over this message. Consider where you really are with this. Reflect. Repent if needed. Respond to God in prayer. Go deep with Him. And be honest. God can handle your honesty.

I’d love to hear what’s on your heart with all of this. CLICK HERE to visit my blog and leave a comment or hit me with a DM on my Instagram. Let’s take the conversation deeper and encourage one another.

Love and grace to you, friend.


PS. I’m giddy-excited to let you know that Season 3 of the GRACEOLOGIE with Gwen Smith Podcast kicked off yesterday with an incredible new episode with Jordan Raynor! (Jumping up and down over here!) Please listen. Promise me you will. It will REALLY bless your socks off! Might even make your toes cold… because your socks are off… get it??

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Comments 38

  1. I struggle with this issue all the time. I want God to be center of my life but how. I want to do what I know I should do but I don’t. I want to please the God that gave me a second chance at this thing that we call life. I have lived by the Holy spirirt’s guidance and was as happy as I had ever been but something happened and I have been searching for him ever since. I pray….I cry out….. I pray…… I cry out…….. but I seem to fall deeper into this mess that is inside of me. I know that He forgives me, but do I really? I know that He loves me, but do I really? I feel empty inside. I am seeking. I am searching. And I am hoping and praying that I will find. Thank you for your devotions. Blessings to you.

    1. You will find it dear child of God. He has not forgotten you. Let us remember those in the Bible who at times cried out to the Lord in their distress and he answered (David Psalm 120:1). He hears! He is there. he’s using this time with you for good and you will see it when he brings it to Light.

  2. This just confirms what I’ve been praying and asking God for – He keeps whispering to me “more” – more of God and less of me. Thank you so much!!!

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  3. In regards to the “Do We Have It All Wrong” blog, I regard the dot as God. I guess it’s more about perspective.
    He is the center of my life, the purpose, the one thing I revolve around. The circle around Him is how He navigates my life with family, friends, work, church, ministry… But the one constant is God in the center of my life, first in my heart, the beacon that radiates out to the circles of my life.

  4. Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted over the earth.” Sounds to me that God is all, God is in all, and God is over all. All of our blessings, life, and breath are all from him. Thank you for reminding me!

  5. I like to see the Lord and me as both being the circle: One as Lord Jesus prayed in John 17, hopefully with the Son’s rays emanating from the circle just like sunshine for all the world to see Jesus.

  6. I’m really thankful for these devotions each one speaks to me and always touched my heart in a special way ! Thank God for you Gwen Smith! That beautiful song really touched me this morning.

  7. Gwen, tears are in my eyes as I sang that old hymn you posted. Thank you for being obedient to the Holy Spirit and publishing today’s devotion (Jan 15).

  8. Thank you Gwen, I read this in GIG and I love hearing all of your different views. I have been a subscriber to GIG for at least three years. I can tell who’s the writer just by your style sometimes. I love each of you and the guests are a fun fresh addition,

    I ask in my quiet time with Jesus so often, “more if you Jesus, less of me”. I am not enough. I cannot do it without Him, Be the wife, mother, sister, daughter, Office, manager, Wyldlife leader, Committee member, friend, that He designed me and placed me here to be without Him, mostly Him. 💕😇💕

  9. A message driven home. I left church on Sunday with a heaviness in my heart that I couldn’t shake. The message was about worship not being about the place or outward posture but the posture of our hearts. Worship is not about me. It’s about God. Then my devotions before bed last night talked about slowing down and walking to the rhythm of God’s steps, not running to the pace of the world clock. Then reading today what you wrote made me feel like God is pleading with me. I have been so caught up in the insanity of a busy life trying to find time to fit God in. I am in drastic need of inverting my circle.

  10. I truly know that my life must be the dot and my Sovereign Lord must be the circle. I keep trying to get into reading God’s word to get closer to him daily. That was my prayer this morning when I woke. I need a closer walk with Jesus. I am going to try harder.

  11. The hard part for me, is that, even though I sit with Hod daily, asking Him to take me, my day and all that I am and make it His, I seem to get wrapped up in the “stuff” of life and I am not certain whose leading. I need to somehow tune in to God more frequently during my days.

  12. Thank you for this reminder. So many times I ask why didn’t I get this or that. This is a reminder it isn’t about me, it’s about HIM!

  13. Gwen, my daughter started me reading your daily devotion!! What a blessing to read your inspiring thoughts, always based on God’s Word.
    Thank you for lifting Jesus, our light in this world, so we can place our focus on Him…He must increase as we decrease.

    God continue to bless you and your family this year!!

  14. Wow! God keeps bringing this verse to me. I know I need to put him first. I was definitely convicted. The Holy Spirit has moved me to make amends with a colleague today. I was putting my own needs first and was short with him. Praise God for His mercy. Thank you for your eloquent writing.

  15. I am thankful that I am not alone in this journey and that there are believers like me who go through the same struggle . I am rejoicing that there is hope and that hope is found in Jesus. Thank you for the encouragement, may we continue to pray for each other until at last we reach our heavenly home. May God continued blessings be with your ministry as you continue to touch lives.

  16. Amen . Thanks 😊 for this message . We put everything in God’s place 🙏. If we would just put him first everything else would be ok . Less worries less complaint less selfishness. Amen love you 😘 have a great day !

  17. I was blessed to speak at a women’s conference back in December and when my friend was praying over me, she spoke these words – “Lord, thank you for the opportunity you have given Karen to share You with these ladies. Please make it about You and not about Karen.” At first I was a taken back by it, but have realized as my ministry grows that she was so wise in that prayer. Gwen, your question “do I simply include Him in my life” hit the nail on the head! I put God in my pocket so I can pull Him out when I need Him. Oh wow…that was a great visual! Anyways, thank you for sharing this with us today!

  18. I am overwhelmed and know and recognize that statement so reflects ME! I am 80 and still finding my way. Reading, e praying and continually asking for God’s love and guidance for me and my family. Reading your posts each day continue to give me strength and guidance as I continue to study and go about daily activities. I must say that today’s trading was a most powerful revelation to digest. I will continue to remind myself of it’s importance in my growth. Thank you and God bless you as you continue your work for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  19. Gwen I love where you said “I breathe in His deep grace and, once again, am thankful that the kindness of the Lord leads me to repentance and recalibrates my heart to His. He refocuses my mind and redirects my soul toward what really matters.”

    This is what I so need this year. Thank you!

  20. Just wanted to thank you soo much for this! We have to strive to love our Lord more in times of stress, sickness etc.

    For me when I have prayed soo much and our Lord seems soo far away I have thought what is this all about? I am growing so much have less of that but do stop sometimes and think we are human and our Lord understands our weakness. I also have a times of envy which is also a sin when I see people like you and Lysa and all the wonderful Christian writers who do such amazing works for our Lord.

    Thank God for people like you so I can share all these wonderful messages with my family
    God Bless always 🙏

  21. Wow, is all I could say after reading this. What a stunning illustration of priorities! I will remember this forever.
    Thank you for all you do, Gwen. I listen to your podcasts on my morning walks and always feel inspired and challenged by you and your guests. A true blessing in a world that is hurling so many mixed messages at us every day.
    God bless you in all you do, and thank you for this powerful insight today.
    With Gratitude,
    Cindy Lee Fairfield

  22. I loved your story and it made me more determined to be immersed in Christ. I saw the circle and dot a little differently I Cor. 6:19 reads,
    “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” KJV

    I see the dot as the Holy Spirit living within the believer, but it is not a tiny dot, it fills most of the circle and radiates out to the line of the circle and beyond. The dot (the Holy Spirit) is living within the circle (the believer in Christ) and surrounding the circle so that the circle is becoming more like the dot from the inside out and touching others with that love.

    Thank you so much for your story it is beautiful, thought-provoking, and motives me to let Him fill more and more of my life. Be Blessed.

    My song would be Order My Steps

    Order my steps in Your word dear Lord
    Lead me, guide me everyday
    Send Your anointing, Father I pray;
    Order my steps in Your word
    Please, order my steps in Your word

    Humbly, I ask Thee teach me Your will
    While You are working, help me be still
    ‘Cos Satan is busy, God is real;
    Order my steps in Your word
    Please, order my steps in Your word

    Bridle my tongue let my words edify
    Let the words of my mouth be acceptable in Thy sight
    Take charge of my thoughts both day and night;
    Order my steps in Your word
    Please order my steps in Your word

    I want to walk worthy
    According to Thy will
    Please order my steps Lord
    And I’ll do Your blessed will
    The world is ever changing
    But You are still the same;
    Please order my steps, Lord I’ll praise Your name

    Order my steps in Your word
    Order my tongue in Your word
    Guide my feet in Your word
    Wash my heart in Your word
    Show me how to walk in Your word
    Show me how to talk in Your word
    When I need a brand new song to sing
    Show me how to let Your praises ring
    In your word, in your word

    Please order my steps in Your word
    I “think” the songwriter is Glen Burleigh.

  23. I am really trying hard to put God at the center of all my thoughts each day. I am going through some things that seem to keep taking my eyes off of him and on to my problems. I was diagnosed with Uterine Fibroids last week and I’m not sure what to do about them or what caused them. I am completely trusting in God to help me thru this, and was wondering if any of you ladies have been thru this before. It always makes me feel better to read others comments and realize I am not the only one who struggles with things. Thank you Gwen for being so real and honest. And for all you ladies who share your real life problems and admit when you are struggling. God bless you all and please pray for me.

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      Thanks for sharing, Rose. Sorry about that diagnosis. I’ve not had that, but know many who have. What I DO know is this, God will use every trial we face to grow us and showcase HIS power in our lives if we let Him. I encourage you to ask Him what that can look like for you today, this week, in your friendships… etc.

      LOVE and blessings to you, friend.

  24. I am troubled when I do this, but in the last year I also have attended many churches where the pastor is so busy talking politics that they rarely get the chance to teach the gospel. Doesn’t this just divide people even more since about half of the country would definitely be turned away from church (and God) just because of their views and preaching on politicians. I just feel like politics doesn’t belong in the church, and I don’t know how to get this message out there. It feels like they are preaching with God as the dot–a big problem in American churches it seems.

  25. I thank you so much for this. Each and everyday I struggle to be the child of God that I know I should be. I allow so many things to clutter my mind and my day that I have such a difficult time hearing from the Potter. I have had so many questions in my mind. Wanting time know my purpose and feeling stagnant. I pray that I will learn to be still and make life more about pleasing God and doing his will and not my own.

    1. That is exactly how I feel. I want so much for God to be my center. I’m just not sure how to get there. Just keep praying!

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    1. I needed to read this. I needed the reminder Thou art the potter I am the clay. Mold me and use me Lord. Oh how I need you! My blessed Savior. I’ve recently retired and I feel alone and I have a heavy heart. Parents are in their 90’s and need assistance more than I’m able to provide. .I fell and broke my foot. And my list could go on. I pray Have thy own way Lord, Touch me and heal me, have thy own way.

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  26. It is my belief that God is moving mightily in hearts of people to shake them up. We have become passive. Christians look too much like the world and we should ask why?? Thank you for this reminder. It is as if we are trying to be the potters molding God into our image instead of leaving God on His throne where He belongs. We are the creation in the hands of the Creator – and we should never, ever forget this.

    Psalm 81, Jeremiah 11, Jeremiah 16, Proverbs 29, Romans 1, Zechariah 7, Ezekiel 3, Hebrews 3, Romans 2 all talk about God giving people over to their stubborn hearts. To me, that is a very scary place to be.

    1. Thank you, NAnn. I am in agreement with your sharing–a Holy Spirit led follow-up to Gwen’s message. Thank you both. I must remember it is never too late to let our God in Christ shake each of us up. As a 70 year old woman, a born-again Christian, believer and follower of Jesus Christ since Sept. of 1983, why is it taking me longer than I would like to becoming more like Christ. It is because way too often, Christ is the dot, I am the circle. Lord, forgive me; in the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

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