I get stuck sometimes.
And when I get stuck, my responses are revealing.
Sometimes I get stuck in traffic, and instead of trusting God’s timing, I let resentment grow and give birth to anger at others I blame for dictating the pace of my journey.
Sometimes I get stuck because of my own choices. Instead of choosing the path of wisdom, I let a craving for adventure send me rushing off the path, only to find myself spinning my wheels in mire and mud.
Sometimes I get stuck in ruts and routines. Instead of navigating my day with purpose and awareness, I just go through the motions, failing to notice beauty or need.
When I find myself feeling trapped by the actions of others or by my own choices, the real-time condition of my heart is revealed.
Anger, rebellion, or apathy in my attitude or actions are signs that I’ve neglected my heart, that I’ve gone headlong into my day rather than stopping to spend time with my Father.
I need a love refill.
And sometimes I find myself paralyzed by a sudden health or relationship crisis, not knowing what to do next. When I find myself caught in circumstances out of my control, fear can freeze me in place.
I need a love reminder.
So when I get stuck, what do I do?
I turn to God’s Word.
I remind myself that God’s love is available to me not because of what I can do, but because of what Jesus did for me on the cross. This perfect love reached me not when I was at my best, but when I was at my very worst — trapped in my sin, helpless, with no way out. The unfailing love of my Father rescued me not when I was worthy or making progress or doing good things, but at the right time, when my need was the greatest, when I was stuck in my sin. God’s amazing love never fails.
But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 CSB
I remember Jesus’ words to a group of believers who were stuck, who were doing the right things, but had neglected this first love.
I know your works….But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.
Revelation 2:2, 4-5a CSB
So, when I get stuck, I do these things:
I stop and examine my heart.
I listen for my Father’s voice.
I remember the height of His unfailing love, a love that can reach me no matter how far I fall.
I turn around and choose to go God’s way rather than my own. I repent, confessing any anger or apathy or self-reliance and ask my Father to renew my heart.
And I do what I did at first.
I do what I did when I was first intoxicated with the love of God. In those days, a friend showed me a simple way to start my day with God’s Word. I look at the date on the calendar and read the Proverb that matches that number. Then I read the same chapter number in Psalms, add 30 to the number and read that Psalm, then keep adding 30 until I’ve read five Psalms. (For example, on the 16th I would read Proverbs 16, Psalm 16, Psalm 46, Psalm 76, Psalm 106, and Psalm 136.)
Like me, the psalmists got stuck and cried out for help. The psalms remind me of the character of God, and they remind me to rely on His unfailing love rather than spinning my wheels trying to rescue myself. The psalms give me words to shape my worship and my prayers when I can’t find my own. And the proverbs show me the difference between foolishness and wisdom and help me choose God’s way.
This return to Psalms and Proverbs, to the rhythms of the Bible’s songs and practical wisdom, allows me to re-establish habits of the Spirit that restore my heart and help me find my way once more to the path of joy.
What can you do when you get stuck?
Do what you did at first.
When you get stuck, tend to your heart.
Spend time with your first love like you did at the beginning. Read God’s Word and listen to His voice. Ask Him to show you what to do. Trust His unfailing love.
You don’t have to stay stuck.
Your Father will make a way out for you.
Let me experience your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in you.
Reveal to me the way I should go because I appeal to you. Psalm 143:8 CSB
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8 NIV