You find yourself in a deep rut. You are wandering around in the valley of the shadow of death. You can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or, insert you predicament here. What do you do?
How do you get “unstuck”? How do you get past the barriers of pride, fear, guilt, worry, and doubt?
When I was a counselor at a brand new summer camp, we were using an old Masonic park as our camp grounds. The lodge that we used for meals was not the newest, shiniest building you’d ever seen. In fact, it was quite the opposite. We found ourselves using bleach quite often to take care of the mess. We used it so much that it became the solution to pretty much any problem, “Just pour a little bleach on it.”
Dirty bathroom? Just pour a little bleach on it.
Smelly clothes? Just pour a little bleach on it.
Homesick camper? Just pour a little bleach on it.
If only our life issues could be resolved the same way.
It’s simple, right? You just fix the situation. You say a prayer, sprinkle some magic Jesus dust and bam!! Like and Emeril Lagasse recipe, you are all better. Everything is back to normal. Just pour a little Jesus dust on it. Life is back on track. Your situation is fixed. Your relationship repaired. Your emotional wounds healed. Right?
No. Not right.
However, you do have to take action. You can’t go camp out in the valley. I know the brochure made it seem nice and all. You get to wallow in self pity for days!!!! As fun as that sounds, I don’t think it is healthy. I don’t think it is good to walk around feeling pride, fear, guilt, worry, and doubt. It distracts us from God. It distracts us from what’s happening right now. It causes us to live in the past and worry about the future. The Bible says that’s definitely not alright.
So what do you do? You can’t live that way and you can’t magically make it disappear.
Like any adventure, it begins with a first step.
Willpower. We have to want to get “unstuck.” We have to want to get closer to God; to connect with him, or perhaps reconnect with him (again). The world will tell us that our willpower comes from within. I’ve got news for the world. That’s the last place it comes from. In my experience, my will power is not sufficient. In fact, the more I tell myself not to eat junk food, the more I want junkfood. And, the moment I say I’m not going to eat cookies this weekend, what happens? Cookies appear out of nowhere.
So if I can’t use my willpower, then whose willpower do I use. I use, or am learning to use, God’s willpower. God’s will is sufficient. It is perfect. It is a mystery and confusing sometimes, but it is right. It is just. It is fair. And it is easy. If we seek God’s will, then our burden is light (Matthew 11). If we seek our own will, then the burden is too much to bare.
Psalm 143:9-10 (NLT)
9Rescue me from my enemies, LORD; I run to you to hide me.
Next step. Let go and let God. You’ve heard that phrase a bagillion times. It is practically cliche and if I had a better set of words to use that said the same thing I would use them. But that five word sentence can be pretty powerful when put into action.
Let go of what? Everything. Hand it all over to him. How? I’m still working on that part. But, you can start by telling him you want him to take it all. Stress as work? Trying to figure out your next job move? Give it to God and let it go. Relationship problems? Trying to make that friendship work that just doesn’t want to get on the right course? Let it go, and give it to God. He’s a master at jobs. He invented relationships. He’s got this. You don’t got this. Figure it out. Let God handle all that stuff, big and small. Our job is to focus on doing his will. But we (and when I say we I mean I) let our selves get in the way. We still hold on to this notion that our life, our relationships, our jobs, our finances, or whatever should go the way we want them to go. No. They should go the way God planned them to go. And we should be excited about handing all this stuff over to the guy who created the universe, time, space, matter, and cockroaches.
Step 3. God is not done with you yet.
It’s easy to think that God is ignoring us when we are down there in that rut. He must be working on something more important. He’s moved on and we are left to fend for ourselves. But, rest assured that even in those times when it seems like God is not around, he is still working on us. He is still shaping us and directing us. He is still loving us, still working to move us in a direction the leads us to him.
Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
6And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
And then lastly, only probably not lastly, but just the last thing I am going to write about, take it one day at a time.
Matthew 6:34 (NLT)
34“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Like I said, there is no magic Jesus dust to sprinkle on our problems. Although, I bet I could make a few bucks selling a product with that label on it (can you say Kickstarter?). These things take time. They take effort. They take prayer and dedication to a goal. I don’t know how long your journey out of your rut will take. Only God can know and more often than not, he’s not going to tell you, “In two weeks, everything will be fantastic.” No, instead, he’s going to shine the light on the next step. And when you take that step, then he will show you the step after that, and then the one after that, and so on. And, before you know it, or maybe after you know it, you are standing in the light again.
Then you turn around, you look at what you just went through, and you smile and thank God for his loving guidance. Off in the distance, back there in the darkness, you see someone walking in circles in their own valley, and now you have the knowledge and the love in your heart to encourage them to take that first step, to give it up to God, and to help them take those steps towards the light.
Share the love. Show the light. Be the fuse.