Many years ago. Many. Six of us took a guys trip to the national forest in Colorado camping. It was a father-son trip. Two dads a little older than me each brought their sons and I brought my dad. We drove to Colorado in an old van that didn’t have all its seats.
In Colorado we rented a Jeep Wrangler to play with in the wilderness. We were set. 1 big expedition style tent, cots, bags, food, fishing poles, the jeep and more food. The weather was amazing, the sky so clear at night. I had a pile of books I read sitting in the mountains. It was an amazing trip.
On the trip we took the jeep everywhere. There were six of us and the jeep held 4. We didn’t care, we doubled up and put all of us in the jeep.
One evening we went out on some 2 track trails through the forested mountainside. Several times we had to gun it to get through some deep, slushy mud. It was muddy and it was fun!
Cruising down a hill and a quick turn to the left brought us to a stop, however. Before us was a good 40 – 50 yards of deep, wet, fun looking mud!
John is driving and my dad is in the front seat next to him. “Do we go?” John asks looking at me with a grin on his face. His son Daniel is on my lap and Mike, sitting next to me, has his son on his, “I’m not sure we can make it” he says. My dad is quiet.
“Yes, let’s do it!” I exclaim. My dad turns and looks at me, “I thought I raised you smarter than that,” he says with a smile. “I’m just like you, dad! Let’s go!”
We make it half way. Not even close before we spin to a stop. Mud is up to the floor boards and the wheels have nothing to grip.
Climbing out we are all over our knees in mud. It’s glorious. Driven by our anxiety, immediately a flurry of talking erupts about how we are going to get unstuck – Nobody is excited about walking miles back through the wilderness to a real road to find help. Prospects of getting unstuck on our own looks slim.
Pushing forward and backward and forward and backward. Back and forth and back and forth with mud flying everywhere. No progress except to be covered in mud! “Let’s stop trying,” I say. “When else can we just enjoy being stuck in the mud in the middle of something so beautiful, look around us!”
And it was beautiful. Gorgeous. But we were so hopelessly focused on getting unstuck we couldn’t see it. The beauty in the mud.
We caught our breath. We breathed. We laughed at our mess.
Whenever we get stuck – spiritually, in life, in doubt, in messes – we tend to work really hard to get unstuck. Being stuck can be scary. Its uncertain how things might turn out. We have doubts and our doubts scare us.
Does God care? What if I don’t survive? I don’t think even God can fix this. I don’t think God even loves me enough to care!
Our stuckness and doubts can be really uncomfortable and we want to get out as soon as we can. We want to feel safe, be secure and know everything is always going to be ok.
But sometimes our doubts – our places of stuckness – are exactly where God wants us to be. More often than not, those are the most beautiful places. And the mud isn’t dirty, it glorious. Messy and glorious go together.
Putting the jeep in 1st gear, we slowly drove ourselves out of the mud. We were unstuck but the adventure was over.
It isn’t until we stop striving against our circumstances that Jesus shows up and lifts us out. The same Jesus who cried out, “My God! My God! Why have your forsaken me!” is the one who loves you enough.
Do you have doubts? That’s ok – so do I. Are you stuck? Me too. Let’s be stuck together.