I was sitting in the back of a Gator vehicle with a couple of kids this morning at a friend’s farm. We were doing some solid off-roading down by a little creek when the driver swerved to miss the low-hanging branches of the tree in front of us. Next thing we knew, we found ourselves with the vehicle completely stuck in a muddy bog hidden by tall grass. No matter what we tried, the Gator was sunk good and deep. It wasn’t going anywhere without major assistance.
So, I ferried the kids two at a time through the swamp sinking up to my ankles in mud. My new running shoes, probably ruined now, squished and squelched as mud flicking up the back of my calves and clothes. By the time everyone was on solid ground, the muddy mire had left its mark. We trudged the rest of the way home to finish our unexpected adventure with a round of popsicles.
Driving home, my feet still soaked and toes starting to turn all wrinkly, I reflected on that moment in the mud. That moment of being stuck, of watching the wheels on the Gator spin but go nowhere. No traction, no forward movement, no getting out of the mud and getting free. As I thought about that image I realized it was a fitting image for how I’ve been feeling.
I feel like there is plenty of mud in my life. Plenty of stuff that sucks me in and holds me down stopping me from moving forward, stops me from being free- material things, old wounds, sin, and more. How often I try to push and pull myself out of the mud, but all I do is spin the tires and sink a little deeper. I rev the engine, make a lot of noise, spray mud all over the place, but inevitably I’m still stuck. Still in the same place, just a little dirtier and worse for wear.
Today, we quickly realized that there was nothing we could do to get the Gator vehicle unstuck. We realized that we needed help. Someone with a truck and a tow rope. Someone with more horsepower than we could muster. Someone who wasn’t stuck in the mud but could pull from dry ground, and help us get free.
I was reminded today that getting out of the muddy messes we so easily get ourselves into requires recognizing that we need help. We have to recognize that just trying harder might not be enough. While we might be content to spin our wheels and feel self-justified that we are trying to get free, we know deep down that we really aren’t. We’re going through the motions. Pretending, avoiding what really needs to be done.
To get to dry ground and freedom requires humility and a willingness to confess to God and others our need for help. It requires community, connection, self-reflection. It requires reaching out and directing our energies in new healthy directions.
Most of us, if we’re honest, have some serious mud in our lives. Most of us are really good at spinning our tires and complaining about how things aren’t changing, and we can’t seem to get to dry ground and freedom. I hope this image will help you as it has helped me. It’s time to stop spinning our wheels. We were created to be free. We’ll still carry the mud spatters with us to dry ground. Our shoes may be wet and muddy for a while, but they’ll dry and clean up. We were not created for the quagmire, friends. Let’s not stay there. Let’s reach out and reach up. Together there is hope. The dry ground is calling.