Jan
14

Stuck! by Randy Rowley 1/14/08 ©

By

On a Saturday morning in late January, six friends and I headed to the saltwater marsh between Corpus Christi and Port Aransas for a weekend FCS duck hunt.  Five of us hunted a point on an island off Wilson’s Cut and bagged four redheads (ducks).  Our other two hunters, who hunted around 300 yards from us, weren’t so blessed.

After the hunt, Charles Cutchens and I decided to scout the area in my Ford F-150 pickup truck.  We’d heard more than one group of hunters shooting a lot to the north of us and decided to try finding a land route to their area, as paddling our group’s canoe, kayaks, and jon boat to their area would have taken too much time.

After driving around a mile, we came to a low area and stopped on the hill above it.  The bottom looked a little soupy, but several tire tracks went through it.  I put my truck into four-wheel drive (4WD) high and hit the gas.

After driving around a mile, we came to a low area and stopped on the hill above it.  The bottom looked a little soupy, but several tire tracks went through it.  I put my truck into four-wheel drive (4WD) high and hit the gas.

The instant we got into the low area, I knew we were in trouble.  I didn’t think I could make it to the other side and knew that stopping to put my truck into 4WD low would almost guarantee getting stuck, so I tried to turn around.  That was a big mistake as I didn’t have enough room to complete a U-turn!  Halfway through the turn, I started to feel like I had no control of my truck.  It bogged down, and we came to a stop, mainly in the muck off the sandy road.

I put my truck in 4WD low, and we put shrub branches under the wheels, but it didn’t budge an inch.  We contacted Greg Souther, and soon the cavalry came to the rescue.  We hooked Mark Dillow’s Ford F-250 4WD pickup truck to my truck.  Mark giving his truck gas resulted quickly in it getting stuck, but Greg was able to pull it out with his Toyota Tacoma 4WD pickup truck.  We even piggybacked Greg’s truck to a bystander’s 4WD pickup truck to no avail.  We also broke two of the five tow straps we were using.

After trying for three hours, we gave up and called a wrecker.  In around 45 minutes, the wrecker, complete with a big winch, arrived.  I got out of his way, and soon my truck popped out of the muck like a cork from a bottle.  I ended the morning $300 poorer and a little wiser.

In hindsight, what I should have done was to keep moving forward.  I might have still gotten stuck, but I would have been on the sandy road, not mainly in the muck.  If I’d done that and had still gotten stuck, my friends probably would have succeeded in pulling me out.

Although getting stuck in the muck on hunting and fishing trips is unusual, fortunately, we Christians get stuck all too often in the past and the future.

Exodus chapter 3 records the first conversation between Moses and God at a burning bush that wasn’t consumed by the fire.  Exodus 3:13-14 says, “Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’  Then what shall I tell them?”  God said to Moses, “I am who I am.  This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”  God didn’t say, “Tell them I was has sent me to you,” with the regrets and mistakes of the past.  Nor did he say, “Tell them I will be has sent me to you,” with the anxiety about the future.  Although God lives in the past, present, and future, he wants us to live in the present, where life isn’t as hard because he’s with us.

We cannot live in the past.  If we try to, we’ll eventually get stuck.  We’ll constantly be asking ourselves “what if” questions.  Some of the “what if” questions we might ask ourselves include:

  • What would my life have been like if God had given me a different temperament or gifts?
  • What would my health have been like if I’d exercised and eaten right?
  • What would my life have been like if I’d married someone else?
  • What would my life have been like if I’d chosen a different career?
  • What would my finances have been like if I’d waited until I was more financially stable before starting a family?
  • “What if” makes great fiction and keeps history and sports analysts busy (e.g., “What would have happened if the American carriers had been at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese bombed it?” and “Who would have won if the 72 Miami Dolphins had played the 62 Green Bay Packers?”), but it keeps us Christians from experiencing the abundant life God intended for us.  Jesus said in John 10:10b (NASB), “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

No amount of guilt can change the past.  Rather than examining our pasts to punish ourselves again, we should primarily reflect on God’s blessings while also remembering our failures so we won’t make the same mistakes when similar situations occur.  The past was just a lesson, not a life sentence.

We also can’t live in the future.  Like trying to live in the past, we’ll eventually get stuck.  No amount of anxiety can change the future.  We’ll constantly be wondering, “What will happen to me?”  We’ll become addicted to what our destination will be at the expense of the present.  Some of the “what will happen” questions we might ask ourselves include:

  • What will happen if I accept that job offer which will require us to move 200 miles away from our family and friends?”
  • What will happen if we move my mom with dementia in with us?
  • What will happen if I retire at age 60?  Will we make it?”

Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  “Anxious about anything” includes the future.  When we fret about what might happen, we’re anxious.  We should be concerned about the future and make plans, but we shouldn’t obsess about it to the point where we’re anxious.

Jesus said in John 16:24, “‘Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.  Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.’”  He didn’t speak in the future tense in this verse.  He didn’t say, “Your joy will be complete one day.”  He instructed his disciples to ask in the present, and they would receive joy in the present.

Jesus also addressed fretting about the future.  He said in Matthew 6:25-27, “‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?’”

Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.  Despite that fact, many people don’t live in the present because planning for the future consumes them.  Unfortunately, many people who worked when they were sick and didn’t take vacations to receive a higher retirement check died soon after their retirement date.  All their plans were for nothing.

God expects us to live to the full today.  Again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t plan to live to the full in the future, but there’s a big difference between future planning and being consumed by it.  The future shouldn’t be our top priority.  God may have something completely different for us than what we’re planning.

The thieves who rob us of today are the guilt of our pasts and anxiety of what the future may hold f today.  The presents God gave us of salvation, the Holy Spirit, the abundant life, and spiritual gifts aren’t future gifts to be unwrapped someday.  Colossians 2:9-10 (NLT) says, “For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.  So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”  We were made complete in Christ and received his gifts instantly when we accepted him as our Savior and Lord.

Too many Christians get saved from God’s judgment and then only look forward to their eternal destination.  They miss out on what God has in store for them in the present.  God doesn’t want us to someday get baptized; pray; disciple other Christians; serve him and others; read, meditate on, and memorize his word, etc.  He wants us to take advantage of those blessings right now.

There’s a saying that a rut is just a grave with both ends kicked out.  Are you stuck in a rut – living in the past or the future?  If so, do what I did when my truck was stuck – get someone to pull you out.  When you’re stuck in a rut, the only person who will always pull you out is Jesus.  But, just as I did when that wrecker driver arrived, we have to get out of Jesus’s way and allow him to free us.

Randy’s truck

Categories : Devotionals

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Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Mark Dillow’s blog – http://noclearline.blogspot.com/

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