It’s a nameless, forgotten movie from my childhood. But one scene has remained etched in my mind for decades. Perhaps it’s a composite of multiple movies. An individual, walking through a trackless jungle, steps into quicksand. He tries to work his way out, but the more he moves the deeper he sinks. Fortunately, he has a companion who avoided the trap and is able to throw the sinking man a rope or long stick from the edge of the quagmire and pull the friend to safety.
Why has this episode remained so vivid in my memory? It’s probably due to the sheer terror that comes with imagining being so powerless in such a deadly situation. For years afterward, I was on constant lookout in my wanderings through woods or rural areas for any miry hole that I could stumble into. Afterall, I might not have someone there to pull me out.
Helplessness is a terrible feeling. The inability to move out of an unpleasant, restrictive, or toxic situation can eventually squeeze hope out of a person. Whether it’s life-sucking addictions, character-crushing jobs, soul-suffocating relationships, death-dealing circumstances, or merely mind-numbing boredom: to be unable to lift oneself out of a cheerless pit is cause for all categories of despair. How does one find relief and freedom?
Love AND Truth
There’s really only one answer. You’ve got to seek help outside yourself for a different perspective and that which you do not possess on your own. Much of our pop culture tells us to look within to find answers and salvation. While I believe God’s Holy Spirit is intimately present to guide followers of Jesus who truly want to pursue and obey Him, many of us still struggle with the humility and wisdom it takes to ask for help.
Humility is necessary because so often we feel that there’s nothing more for us to learn. And I’m not talking about learning as acquiring more data. We must see differently all the choices and experiences that make up our lives. That, however, requires the ability to receive from outside ourselves. But to ask for help from other eyes to search our lives is not easy because we have to admit we can’t do it on our own. Wisdom is necessary because not all eyes are the same. Some are just as blind as ours. We need those who are committed to speak the truth about what they see, but do it in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Jesus is the One we must first call on when we can admit to ourselves that we’re stuck.
“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30, NLT).
He is the One who sees us how we REALLY are. He doesn’t pretend that our messes aren’t messes. He calls sin, brokenness, and wrong thinking what they are. Yet, He is so committed to our wholeness that He has sacrificed Himself to show us a pathway out. He is the true Rescuer. That’s why He’s called Savior.
Can’t Do It Alone
But the pathway He shows us often reveals our need for other people. Opening our lives to those who speak with truth and love is the most humble and wise thing we can do. They are the ones who can throw us a rope when life-smothering quicksand is sucking us deeper and we’ve tried everything else to free ourselves. To get unstuck requires outside help and our choice to be vulnerable.
To sum it up, call out to Jesus, and then make a call to a loving truth-speaker. They come in many forms: family members, friends, co-workers, counselors, *coaches. Getting unstuck may take some time and intentional self-examination that is not comfortable. But the ability to move forward in hopeful freedom is worth any inconvenience or painful processing.
Look around. What person or group has Jesus sent to you who is throwing out a rope? Recognize your need. Reach out. Take hold of it. It’s your choice.
*Working with a life coach is a unique but powerful way to get “unstuck” and access outside help. This is especially effective if you have goals (be they for external or internal changes) that you have not been able to achieve on your own. CLICK HERE if you would like to know more.
(Edited and Reposted from November 30, 2020)