Stuck. The word jumped right off the page. I could have sworn that it was bold faced with a star highlighting the empty line, awaiting my name on the writing list. My heart stirred, I quickly identified with the topic. I understood it. The truth was, I was feeling stuck myself.
As I sat down to write, my mind all too easily recalled instances of being stuck overseas. I have lived abroad for many years. My family and I have served with a people group on a remote island. Life in a third world country is very unpredictable and so being stuck was not a new thing in my life.
All too often, I have been left sitting at the airport, flights canceled or delayed. I have been held at the Immigration office waiting for a clerk to finish their lunch. I have stood for hours in a taxi line, or impatiently waiting out the bad weather at our organization’s Guest House. Can anyone relate to my feelings of helplessness, frustration, anger and even sometimes a sense of grief?
For such a small five letter word, “stuck” unpacked big emotions. It stirred into the deeper waters of my soul. It caused me to examine my current situation. Unlike some of my friends, I am not stuck quarantined in foreign country with closed borders or house isolation. But I felt imprisoned by the place God had put me. No, it wasn’t my outward circumstances that were causing my emotions; I was stuck in a state of mind, and I wanted out.
I imagine the Ancient Israelites could relate as they wandered in a dry desert. Indeed, there must have been a sense of hopelessness and feeling stuck as they passed by the same bushes and waterholes for 40 years. Day after day they wandered, never leaving those desert hills. It would be easy to see how the bitterness and frustration could take root.
Did Moses feel stuck when he found himself on a dry, desert road with a broken dream? Thirsty, as his water container got lighter, I can imagine he sat down in despair and hung his head. Moses was treading sand, but in his quiet moments of frustration, did he cast a silent whisper to God? “Teach Me to number my days….”-Psalm 90:12(NKJV)
We see it so clearly now; Scripture narrates the parts that fill in the story. God did have a plan, and He did move His people out of the desert at the perfect time. The older generation was never allowed to enter the Promised Land and receive the blessing. The younger generation had to wait for them to die. It must have seemed hopeless to them. They were slaves to their own disobedience. A generation of punished people stuck just under the horizon of their promised land. The adults knew they would spend the rest of their days wandering the desert, dying in a land that wasn’t their own.
Still, they looked to God and found the courage to ask Him to change their nature. They asked the Lord to help them value their days and not waste the time He had given them. The Israelites cried out to God. “Teach us to number our days.” Then they walked on, praying each day for a heart of wisdom. God was in the process of changing things, and it wasn’t necessarily with a new set of circumstances. He gave them a new perspective. Like a new pair of lenses on your old glasses, they were seeing their circumstances differently. The older generation might have never set foot into Canaan, but they were no longer stuck.
The desert story is familiar, but it challenges me to think. Being stuck is real, and will always bring with it a layer of inconveniences and heartache. After all, we know the Israelites never grew to fully appreciate the desert cuisine. But, God never gave up on them.
I can believe that He will never give up with me either. Instead, He is changing my perspective. When I’m stuck in place, my human nature begs for a happy completion to my struggles, and the truth is that this situation is not what I had envisioned. But neither did the Israelites find all their joy in the Promised Land. Thankfully, victory does not lie in the arrival of a destination, but rather in the value of traveling each day with God.
Are you feeling stuck lately? How are you finding value in each day during this current season of life?