Summary: When we get stuck in life, God helps us (often through others).
Bogged Down and Out
Psalm 40:1-11 Rev. David J. Clark
The Psalm talks about getting stuck. “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”
I cannot think about being stuck without remembering a disastrous date when I was 16 years old. It was one of the first dates where I was allowed to drive. And I was with Rhonda, a girl a year older than me who I worked with at McDonald’s. It had taken me months to muster up enough courage to ask her out. If she had gone to my high school, she would have been like most of the other girls who wouldn’t give me the time of day. After dinner, we wound up going up to lookout point, which we weren’t supposed to do. I was on top of the world. She was homecoming queen at her school and she liked me. Somehow the hour got late, and we had about five minutes to get both of us back to our homes on opposite sides of town before we turned into pumpkins.
Coming down the hill, somehow I slid into a snow drift off the side of the road. Rhonda said, “We’re stuck.” She had the rising intonation like lots of teen girls where sentences sound more like questions than declarations. Being the experienced driver I was, I said, “Nah!” No way the best night of my life was going to get ruined like this. I calmly threw it into reverse and floored it. The back tires spun furiously of my 1974 Ford Gran Torino (the kind of car featured on Starsky and Hutch—except mine was a styling 2-tone-brown-4-door sedan). “We’re stuck.” “Nah!” I tried rocking the car forward - reverse. I’d seen lots of people able to work themselves free using this technique. Soon I knew I was in trouble. The clock hit midnight and she switched from “We’re stuck,” to “You’re stuck.”
She was hiding behind her long brown hair. I wasn’t sure how to ask her for help without actually saying, “Help me Rhonda—help help me…. “Getting out and pushing only made matters worse. I was just spinning the wheels and going nowhere except more stuck.
I now had to admit the obvious. I was stuck. But I would have to do more than admit the obvious; I would have to pay for it—in more ways than one. I would have to pay for the phone call for help, for the tow truck, and for the lack of a second chance with Rhonda. Her parents wouldn’t let her go out with me any more—I was too much of a bad boy. (That’s right, me a bad boy. Think I’ll get a temporary tattoo). I would also have to admit to my parents that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, and that I needed help.
It occurs to me that we can get stuck in lots of ways in our lives. Any of you feel like you are spinning your tires today? Going nowhere but spending a lot of energy? We can get stuck in bad habits that keep us in a rut. We can get stuck and not be growing in our relationships, in our careers, in our finances, in our learning and personal growth and development. We can get stuck in bad moods such as anger or grief or depression, or we can get mired down with negative thinking.
Sometimes we are going to feel stuck in life. We want to be different. We believe we can change, that there is something better inside of us, or for us. But we just keep falling into the same old habits and behaviors. It is almost as if there is a big elastic band around your waist and every time you move forward, you feel the tension and after you go so far, you get snapped back. That band is also around a post. The post can be your past, a resentment, or even believing somone who told you that you were no good, that you’d never do any better that you weren’t worthy of getting ahead. And we feel tied to this thing, and can’t ever seem to break free. So we learn to make friends with it. We get used to defeat and negative things to happen. When good things do happen we even have a way of making the worst of that, too.
Some of you are like me and find it hard to root for your favorite team because you just know that no matter how good things are going during the game, no matter how much of a lead your team has that somehow or another they are just going to find a way to blow it. And you can’t enjoy a single play because you dare not get your hopes up again. Instead you are looking for signs of it all coming apart. He has his hands on his hips, maybe he’s getting too tired—maybe he’s going insane out there for lack of hydration. Everything you see confirms the negativity. So it is in life, we start looking for evidence that confirms our preconceived notions that we are won’t ever do well, that we can’t break free from that post, that the universe is out to get us. We’d rather look for evidence that confirms those lies than dare to hope in the truth of the scriptures that declares that we are children of the most high God who have been given a spirit for greatness, not mediocrity. We are supposed to make important contributions to our families, our communities and remember that Jesus came that we might have life abundant. Spend more time looking to the scriptures than your post to define who you are.