Stuck! by Randy Rowley 1/14/08 ©


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.  Our other two hunters hunted across the shallow cove from us.  Unfortunately, they were skunked.

After the hunt, Charles Cutchens and I decided to scout the area in my Ford F-150 pickup truck.  We had heard more than one group of hunters shoot a lot to the north of us and decided to attempt to find a land route that would take us close to where they were, as paddling our group’s canoe, kayaks, and jon boat close to them would have taken too much time.

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

The moment we got in the low area, I knew that we were in trouble.  I didn’t think I could make it to the other side and knew that stopping and putting my truck in 4WD Low would almost guarantee getting stuck, so I tried to turn around.  Big mistake!  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 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 got in touch with 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 about 45 minutes, the wrecker, complete with a big winch, arrived.  We got out of the driver’s 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 still might have gotten stuck, but I would have been on the sandy road, not mainly in the muck.  If I had done that and had still gotten stuck, we 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 the burning bush.  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, “I was has sent me to you,” with the regrets and errors of the past.  Nor did he say, “I will be has sent me to you,” with the worries and fears of the future.  Although God lives in the past, present, and future, he wants to meet us in the present.  When we live in the here and now, life is less hard because God is here.

We cannot live in the past.  If we try to, we will 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 health have been like if I had exercised and ate right?
  • What would my life have been like if I had married someone else?
  • What would my life have been like if I had chosen a different career?
  • What would my finances have been like if I had waited until I was more financially stable before starting a family?
  • What would my life have been like if God had given me a different temperament or different gifts?

“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.  The past was just a lesson, not a life sentence.  Examining our pasts is only valuable for reflecting on God’s blessings and remembering our failures, so when similar scenarios present themselves now or in the future, we won’t make the same mistakes.

We also cannot live in the future.  Just like trying to live in the past, we will eventually get stuck.  No amount of anxiety can change the future.  We’ll constantly be wondering, “What will happen to me?”  Some of the “what will happen” questions we might ask ourselves include:

  • What will happen if I take that job and we move to San Antonio?”
  • What will happen if I move my mom 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.  That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be concerned about the future and make plans, but we shouldn’t obsess about it to the point of anxiety.

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?’”

We’re not guaranteed to have a tomorrow.  Despite that fact, many people don’t live in the now because planning for the future consumes them.  Many such people didn’t take vacations or worked when they were sick to receive more money when they retired, only to die soon after they stopped working.  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 even fuller in the future, but there’s a big difference between future planning and living in it.  The future shouldn’t be our priority.  God may have something completely different in store for us than what we are planning.

Regret, worry, and fear are the thieves who rob us of 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 right now.  God doesn’t want us to someday get baptized; read, meditate on, and memorize his word; pray; disciple other Christians; serve others; etc.  He wants us to take advantage of those blessings right now.

It’s said that a rut is just a grave with both ends kicked out.  Are you stuck in a rut – living in the past and 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 successfully pull you out is Jesus.  But, just as I did when that wrecker driver arrived and I got out of his way, we have to get out of Jesus’s way and allow him to free us from where we’re stuck.

Randy’s stuck truck

Categories : Devotionals

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