“On your mark; get set; GO!”
Cars explode down the raceway, horses leap out the gates, humans sprint down the track, and motorcycles accelerate down the incline, to their first jump. As strange as the above combination seems, all actually have something in common – they each have one goal, which is to win. They each have another similarity as well – they race in circles. On one big, round, dirt track. No matter how hard, fast, or furious they drive, they will always be doing circles on that track.
Now, I know this illustration is not perfect, for one competitor will finish the race in first place, but I want to look at it in regard to the Christian life. There are times in our lives when we feel like we are on that oval track. Even though we are serving, serving, serving, we really are going nowhere. We do not feel, or better said – sense – we are progressing in our spiritual life. We feel like a gerbil – trapped in his cage – running on his exercise wheel, going nowhere.
In this article, I want to dissect one word by making an acrostic out of it: Stuck, and look at some ways God might be trying to catch our attention.
1. Stumped (puzzled)
For almost as long as you remember, you have been leading in AWANA; playing guitar in church; helping with junior church; even teaching Sunday School. But even though you are doing all of this, you sense no spiritual growth and you are puzzled. You feel empty and sense God is not near. At this stage, you mostly feel as if there is something else you should be doing. You feel like you are not doing enough, yet you do not know what else to do. You possibly try reading different devotional books, or even reading longer sections from your Bible. You try to pray more, mainly asking help from God. Nothing is making sense right now, and you start feeling confused.
2. Turmoil (confusion)
At this stage, you tend to be more desperate. Even though you continue with your ministries, you do not feel they are helping in any way. They make you feel emptier and you start to have second thoughts of why you are even doing it. You desperately seek God’s will, but still, He seems to not answer. Then finally, after what seems like ages, God answers in a positive form – He answers by giving answers. Often though, they are answers totally different from what we were expecting, and we are caught off guard.
3. Unprepared (caught off guard)
But why are we so often unprepared for the answers that God gives us? We have been pleading desperately to give us the answers. We have begged Him to reveal what is hindering our fellowship with Him. Why are we caught off guard?
In Jeremiah 17:9, the prophet writes,
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (NKJV).
The main reason is because of the heart. Even though we strive to serve God and do His will, because of the evil of our own heart we are often blinded. That is why it is so important not to follow your heart. This is why we cannot go by feelings. We still have that old man – the flesh – that battles against the new man daily (Romans 7:15). We must humbly go before the Lord and accept the answers that He gives us.
Now, all cases are not like this. There truly may not be any hidden sin in our lives when we are stuck in ministry. What then should we do? We need to be willing to change anything, no matter how foreign it might seem. This is when God is trying to get our undivided attention. There is something He is wanting to show us. It can be anything! Just be prepared for any area of life God might want to work on. The Christian life is a life of sanctification, meaning we are always being transformed more and more into His image.
4. Correct it (fix it)
It is human nature that when something broken is found, many times we tend to pass it by or jerry rig it, hoping it lasts for a while longer. In the Christian life, this is impossible! If the problem has been found, it must be dealt with at once. When we see a problem in our lives, we must go to the Lord and fix them before they get bigger. If it is sin, John writes in 1 John 1:9,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (NKJV).
Do not be afraid to fix it! God will forgive and give us the strength to correct it. When it is corrected, we then carry on.
5. Keep on (carry on)
The Christian life is not easy, but in the end, there is true joy if we finish well. Just as I explained in the beginning of the article, the Christian life is a race. It is not just for the exercise, but to learn how to run. It is a race which we are to win. Can we be like Paul, who wrote,
“Not that I have already attained… but I press on… I do not count myself to have apprehended… [but] I press toward the goal…” (Philippians 3:12-14) (NKJV)
We will not understand everything that we are going through, but we can rest in the fact that God does, and that he has a purpose for everything. Do not be like that gerbil, running in circles on his wheel. When you sense you are stuck – stop; determine what is wrong and fix it by following the Instructions. Then, carry on toward that prize.
~Guest Author David Hock~