A couple of weeks ago I kicked off my current sermon series with a simple premise–if you stop in the wrong place, you’ll get stuck…just keep going. Psalm 1 was the text, where we see the progression of the person who winds up in a bad spot: walking in the wrong place, then standing in the wrong place, then sitting in the wrong place. Growing up in Ormond Beach, Florida (and having been back on the beaches here since last June) I have seen plenty of vehicles go across soft sand beyond their vehicle’s ability to traverse it, only to watch them slow down, stop, and then proceed to get themselves seated up to the axles in sand.
What you see pictured above is a Ford Raptor, a pickup designed to be a high-speed off-road-dominating monster. And it is. The Raptor is, by all accounts but those who simply despise Ford, an amazing off-road truck. And yet notice it’s condition in this photo: buried to the bumpers in sand. It’s clearly designed for off-road, and the aftermarket wheels and tires imply that it has been modified to perform even better in adverse conditions. So why is it stuck?
Because sometimes you just get stuck.
It doesn’t matter how prepared you are, how well-equipped you may be, or how much training you have. There are going to be times when you and I are going to find ourselves bumper-deep in something we don’t want to be in, somewhere we don’t want to be. We did all the right things, tried to be careful, and yet we’re still stuck. What did we do wrong?
There are many examples of people in the Bible who were doing the right things (or at least weren’t actively doing anything wrong) who found themselves in catastrophic, bumper-deep sand. In the Old Testament book that bears his name, we see that Job was a godly man who had a great relationship with God and was known for his righteousness, and yet he lost everything he had: his family (other than his wife), his possessions, even his health. He had done nothing wrong, and yet there he was, up to his bumpers in a mess. Others like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who in the first few chapters of the Old Testament book of Daniel are shown as young men faithful to God, refused to bow before a pagan king and his idols, and yet were tossed unceremoniously into a fiery furnace. Why?
Because God uses bad and difficult things as well as good things to bless. In the end, Lot was blessed with more than he had before his losses. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were delivered from the furnace and made to be high-ranking officials in the very kingdom that had enslaved them.
If you’re going to go off-road, sooner or later, you’re going to get stuck. I don’t know what happened to the Raptor in the above picture, but I’m pretty sure it lived to off-road another day, likely with some help from someone else. The owner learned something, and definitely had a good story to tell. Isn’t that the point of doing adventurous things like off-roading? Likewise, if you and I walk with God, sooner or later, we’re going to get stuck as well. The good news is that Jesus will give us what we need to get free, you and I will learn something from it if we will pay attention, and we’ll probably have a good story to tell. Isn’t that the point?