On our way to visit family for Thanksgiving, we drive mile after mile, passing hundreds of other vehicles that represent drivers from many walks of life. We pass FedEx trucks – (got to be on time!); the farm truck with hay hanging out the back; utility vans and trucks with ladders; semis hauling goods to market; drivers of cars, vans, SUVs and personal trucks going about their business, or perhaps heading out to visit loved ones for the holidays.
My mind wanders to the habits and expectations that we develop in life that over time can become ruts.
All ruts are not necessarily bad. I remember a couple of times when I had to drive in snow that had not been plowed. The only way to get through was in the ruts that others had worn on the safety of the road. They kept me from going off the road and getting stuck in the cold with no one to rescue me. However, even these leave a possibility of danger, if those who have gone before me wore ruts in the snow by sliding off the road!
Then there are the ruts in dirt roads and paths that get deeper and deeper over time until they become impassable, especially after a heavy, drawn-out rain that transforms the trenches into a muddy trap.
As I travel today on cement pavements, I can only imagine who the people are in all the vehicles we pass. I wonder what God sees from his perspective, He who sees all and knows all, as He looks at each person? What kind of ruts does he see in their hearts and mine?
Does he see good ruts that keep us on the path of His will for us, the ruts that require daily devotion to Him?
Or does He see any number of other ruts that have caused us to stray from the purposes and plans He has for our lives?
Ruts we get ourselves into:
- Fashion preferences (and judge those whose preferences are different)
- Daily habits and routines: things we’ve accepted as right or wrong without holding them up to the light of God’s word
- The rat race
- Idolatry of the clock and agenda
- Apathy towards those in need; being in our own little world, unaware of what’s going on around us by lack of observation or even ignoring the needs of those around us
- Prayerlessness & lukewarmness in the church & our own hearts
- Making our own plans instead of asking God’s guidance day by day
- Putting God in our box – humanizing him, saying what he can or cannot or will or will not do in specific situations that are not specifically addressed in the Bible
- Religious habit minus life
- Narrow-mindedness – inability to think outside the box of our own experience
- Bitterness & unforgiveness
- Rudeness & unkindness
- Complaining & discontent
- Things we’ve accepted as the only acceptable way of life – i. e. materialism: we believe we have the right to it and cannot be happy without it
- Haughtiness – thinking oneself more important, skilled, intelligent, or righteous than others.
Does the rut you or I have gotten stuck in make him sad?
He made each of us in His image.
He wants what’s best for each of us.
We are not the ones who know what is best for ourselves, and to think otherwise is to have an attitude in which we try to exalt ourselves above the all-wise God. That didn’t work out so well for Satan, and we can be sure that it won’t work out well for us either.
So how do we get out of a wayward or dangerous rut?
Recognize and confess to God
that you are in that rut and have gotten comfortable with it.
Ask Him to take away your fear
of the discomfort of change.
Ask Him to light the fire of passion for devotion to Him and His word.
- Ask him to show you a person or group that can come alongside and help you.
Actively seek God’s help through daily prayer and thoughtful reading of His word.
- Do your research to find people who can help you. Learn from godly Christians you meet.
- Listen to the things God is telling you through His word and through His helpers.
Banish the “I can’t” voice
every time it tries to get your attention; tell yourself that you can do it with His help.
Don’t focus on the rut; Look up to Jesus and focus on Him.
- If you fail, confess it to God, receive His forgiveness, then get up and keep trying.
- Trust God to love, help, forgive and protect you.
In all likelihood we will fall into the rut a number of times during this process, not because God is not able to help us out, but because we are such creatures of habit, and it takes time and continued effort to develop new, healthy habits.
But we can be encouraged by the words of God spoken through Paul,
“This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’—and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate His extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:15, 16 HCSB
Before Paul gave his life to the Lord, he had fallen into ruts (1 Tim. 1:13,14), though he didn’t see it at the time. But the Lord forgave him and made him a new person from the inside out.
The Lord wants to do the same for you and me. Will you turn to Him today?
Lord, I confess that I have fallen into the rut of ____________. I’ve been doing it so long that I can’t even imagine how to get out of it, and what things I should do instead. I’m sorry. Please help me. Show me the way. Take away my fear of change. Help me to find people who will be able to counsel me in Your ways and help me succeed. Rekindle in me the fire of passion for You and Your word. Show me Your way from Your word, and help me to listen and follow You. Help me to focus on You and Your truth and banish the lies of the enemy of my soul, in the name of Jesus, every time they enter my mind. Help me to keep trying even if I mess up again. Help me to remember that You love me dearly and are always with me ready to help, forgive, and empower me. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
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