Life has all kinds of twists and turns, and it is always interesting to me how “urgent” is a relative term. On Sunday morning, while my most urgent needs started out being coffee and to get home to the two best dads I know (my husband and my own), God’s sense of humor led me elsewhere. He seems to always find a way to make us recognize that our most urgent need is always Him.
My friend Liz and I were headed home from the beach after having a relaxing weekend celebrating a friend’s upcoming marriage. I was so grateful for supportive family that gave me a chance to go away for a few days, worry-free. As Liz and I were chatting it up about all sorts of things, the GPS gave us a quick reminder that we needed to turn in 300 feet. Now, I don’t know about you but 300 feet becomes very gray when you don’t know where you are going, and suddenly we were no longer on a county road, but instead, on a dirt one. I will save you the humbling details (yes, we should have turned around when all we saw was a desert-like scene) but essentially, we found ourselves stuck in the middle of a valley.
If you are going to read this blog, one thing that is pertinent to understand about the way the Lord created me is this: He always seems to take what is going on in the seen and make it into a lesson learned about the unseen. I am so grateful for this, although I am sure it is exhausting for those that are around me a lot and have to hear “blog worthy” analogies about ice cream and birds all the time. That being said, my question for you today is this: What do you do when you are stuck?
There is a lot of talk about the psychology of everyone either being a fighter, a fleer, or a freezer; and I would most definitely consider myself a fleer. So, when we realized we were in fact stuck, I did what any fleer would do… I tried to find every possible way for us to get out ourselves. Some of this was pride (how am I ever going to explain to Hugh that we got stuck on a sandy back road?), and some of it was simply a panicked response to a situation that was out of my control. I would love to tell you that I was super spiritual in that moment and began to pray and thank God for the surprise divine appointment we had with that sandy valley, but to be truthful, that was not on the forefront of my brain or my heart. Praise God for His grace. Praise God that when we are faithless, He is still faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). It became very clear after an hour of trying hunger game-like tricks with our surrounding environment that we weren’t getting out of there on our own. We both just kept saying, “Let’s give that one more try”…and isn’t that what we do when we are stuck in something, whether it’s a specific sin or a negative emotion? We keep trying the same thing, over and over, expecting a different result. The definition of insanity! The thing is this: we were stuck; and when you are stuck, you need something bigger than yourself to pull you out. After all, the very definition of stuck implies that you do not have the power to get out of it by yourself! The beauty of it is this: God knows this about us. (Shocking I know; that the God who created us would know us to our cores!) He is so aware of our inability to get out that He says it this way in Romans 5:8,
“But God shows His own love for us in that while we were still yet sinners, Christ died for us”.
While we were still eternally stuck, God made a way. Believing this to be true, can I not trust Him with the smaller, more temporary “stucks” along the way?
When the police department finally arrived, they came over to us and casually, yet somewhat defensively, asked, “Why are you here? Don’t you know this is meth city?”
No, friendly police lady. No, we did not. We had no idea that we were in a dangerous area. It didn’t appear dangerous. We were in a valley that was off-set by two sandy (might I add, extremely sandy) hills, and there was a pond on one side. If it hadn’t been an unexpected turn, I would have thought it was a decently beautiful place. It was such a great reminder to me of how deceived we can all be by the seeming beauty around us. Satan Himself was exceedingly beautiful, as described in Ezekiel 28:12-15. The focus on his own beauty was the very reason he was sent to Hell. There have been so many times that my emotions have failed me into thinking a certain situation, a certain relationship, a certain activity, was beautiful; simply because it felt or looked okay. Looks and emotions can always be deceiving, and we need to be careful to take heed to this truth. Temporary pleasures can quickly turn into meth city if we do not regard them in their appropriate light.
Prior to giving in and calling local authorities, we had a moment where we said a prayer asking God to get us out of our current position. “Lord”, we prayed fervently, “You know we are stuck but we know You can do anything and so we are asking in faith that You help us get out of here safely”. Liz confidently revved the engine (okay, she started the car. I realize we weren’t at an Indy race and in fact in a Honda CRV but revved sounded better), and I fully anticipated her to be able to drive briskly out of the valley. Nothing. Nothing but more sand spraying all around. It would seem as if God had chosen to not answer the prayer in the way we asked, right? Wrong. It occurred to me later on (after the beach police truck had pulled us out onto the main road), that God had in fact gotten us out of our stuck state, and that He had protected us in the midst. That’s the thing. So often, I expect an answer right there, right then. God in His wisdom, however, chose to answer it in His perfect timing; but that does not mean it was left void in the least.
Who knows why we ended up straying off the main road; but I can promise you one thing: It wasn’t random. Nothing is. God promises us that He cares about all the details of our lives, and that He is using it all for His glory and our good (Acts 17:11, Luke 12:7, Romans 8:28 are a few references to this). God wants us to use all our moments to see Him; He desires us to ask for eyes that look through Christ’s lenses and not our own. The same God that chose to hang on the cross and bear the weight of all our sin and sorrow is the God that will give us His eyes to see if yet we would ask. The question you cannot ask yourself is if you would have done it in His place; because the answer to that is even if you chose “yes”, you couldn’t. Your death on the cross would not have gotten everyone unstuck because you are not a sinless God-man, you are a human. Jesus was the only answer. The only way out. I learned many lessons through that morning’s twists and turns, and my prayer continues to be that in moments of surprise, we would all lean on and trust that He is not surprised and that He desires to teach us something through seemingly big and little occurrences. Whatever you are stuck in today, I pray that you would trust Him to get you out of it or guide you safely through it. He is good in all things.