Winter in Missouri can cause challenges. Especially if you live on a gravel road. (Thank God it’s spring now). Significant snowfalls tend to make traveling our roads into a challenge. Especially when the snow begins to melt and the side of the road becomes sloppy with a mixture of mud and snow. Just ask my son… A narrow road, an oncoming school bus with no intention to slow down or move over, and a little too close to the side creates the perfect opportunity to find yourself in the ditch… stuck.
Once trapped in such a manner with one tire in a hole off the side of the road, there is no amount of tire spinning, or trying to lift oneself out of the ditch. The only solution is to call for help from someone who has the experience and the tools to remove you from it. Thankfully my nephew had a 4-wheel drive truck, a chain, and experience from his own off road/ ditch time.
Years ago, I read the book, “Get Out of That Pit” by Beth Moore. In the book, she made a point about how we get “stuck” in life’s pits: Some we are thrown into, some we fall into, and some we jump into wholeheartedly. That pretty well sums up the times I’ve found myself in an emotional/ spiritual pit. I ended up there one of those three ways. My most recent pit experience was due mainly to a slow slide into it, kind of like my son’s car. Adversity (the school bus) came barreling down my spiritual dirt road with no intention of slowing down, moving over, or yielding to my desperation to get out of its way. Three or four major life issues hitting you at once… not a fun time. But the problem was not so much my problem, although it felt very much like it was. The problem was my response to my problem. I tried to fix it any way so I could feel the slightest bit of relief… Also known as, “my own efforts to save myself”. Feeling overwhelmed… no problem- take some meds, up your meds- again and again. Feeling unheard… no problem- try meditation, empty your mind, find your zen. Feeling angry… no problem- find some angry music, listen to it loud, scream let it out. Feeling (whatever it is) … no problem- fix it yourself. The problem was “I” became my solution… and I cannot do anything to save myself.
“God, the Master, The Holy of Israel, has this solemn counsel: ‘Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me— The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do. You’ve said, ‘Nothing doing” Isaiah 30:15 – MSG
I don’t know if you’ve ever been in real, police handcuffs. I have once. Not that I was arrested. A friend of ours was a police officer. He offered to let me have the handcuff experience. There’s this nifty little thing about handcuffs. When placed on your wrist, if you resist them, they tighten. Less than 30 seconds with them on and experiencing that tightening, I was telling him, “Ok get the key. Take them off.” Our wrestling in self effort to save ourselves is very much like having handcuffs placed on us and the movement only causes the issue/ problem to tighten. There is only one way out, and that is for the one with the key to unlock them and set you free. Let me tell you in no uncertain terms, “YOU FIXING YOU WILL NOT WORK!” It is the same as wrestling with the handcuffs on your wrists. It will only hold you more captive than when you started.
Maybe it’s just I’m hardheaded (my husband would probably say “amen”), but when I started my own self effort to fix me, I was convinced just a little more of my effort would be the cure to the struggle on the inside. Anxiety, depression, anger, etc. are not fixed by me. They are only fixed by allowing the holder of the key, Jesus, to do His work. The only way out of the ditch we find ourselves in by our choices to do it our way, is for Jesus to pull us out. As the verse above states, “Stop your silly efforts to save yourselves”.
My first session with a Christian counselor actually contained the key, that I was unwilling to allow unlock my chains, presented to me. She said, “You know all the things of modern psychology, relies on changing how you see and think about your situation. God already told us how to do that centuries ago in the Bible. Philippians 4:8 is true, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent, or praiseworthy… Think on these things.”” Here is where I went wrong… When she told me this, I was annoyed instead of accepting. I gave it a weak try instead of being determined that I would have to believe and stand in the power of HIs (Jesus’) might. Instead of asking God to help me to think about what He told me to think upon, which equates to thinking on HIM, I started my journey into trying all the solutions that did not include the true key, Jesus. That plan, built on self-sufficiency simply does not work.
God sufficiency does! He is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” Ephesians 3:20. It is a matter of me turning to Him and allowing Him to work. It is a matter of me focusing on who He is giving worship and thanks for who He is. It is a matter of believing. Believing that He is my defender, my rescuer, my strength, my fortress, my teacher, my waymaker, my provider, etc. And in that believing, doing just what Isaiah 30:15 says, “settling down in complete dependence in Him”. God does not fail!! He is waiting for me to stop my “silly efforts to save myself” so He can be who He has always been my savior! He is just that good!