He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:2)
Once upon a time, a man was driving down a country road and decided to get out to stretch his legs and get some fresh air. As he walked through the meadow, he came upon a hole. Wanting to see how deep it was, he threw in a pebble. No sound. So, he threw a medium-sized rock down the hole. No sound.
The man started to get frustrated, so he threw a boulder down the hole. Still no sound. As he searched about, he spotted a railroad tie. He hauled it over to the hole and shoved it in. He heard nothing.
He sat down on the ground, exhausted. Suddenly, he saw a goat running at him, full speed. He leaped up and it brushed past him and fell in the hole. He listened, but there was nothing to be heard. He sat down again. A few minutes passed and a farmer came walking up. The man asked him, “How deep is this hole?”
The farmer said, “Oh. That’s the bottomless pit. It never ends. Say, have you seen my prize goat? He’s gotta be around here somewhere. He was leashed to a railroad tie.”
I’ve heard from a lot of folks that 2020 was a lot like that bottomless pit. We got in and couldn’t get out; we were stuck!
Some found themselves there from nostalgia—the good old days. In this bottomless pit, everything in our past was better than it is now. Franklin Adams once said, “Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.” Or, as my father-in-law’s t-shirt says, “The older I get, the better I was.”
In this pit, you can’t move on in life because you’re constantly looking back to better times. The nation was better back then. Church was better. Times when you were younger, had less gray hair, had more hair, had less responsibility, had a better figure, had a passionate marriage, had less bills, more money, no pandemics.
Another way we find ourselves stuck is by our failures. Like before, you are still stuck in the past. The only difference is that you are trapped by your mistakes, bound by shame, and riddled with guilt. In this pit, we spend our time wishing we could do it all over again. We believe the devil’s lie that “God would never use us with everything we’ve done in the past.”
The third way the devil will lure us into a pit is through blame. Others have hurt us. Others have betrayed us. Others threw us in here. And we’re stuck; we can’t get out.
It’s probably less important how you got there than how to get out. Only God can get you out. All the self-help books or preaching in the world can’t rescue you—they may help you cope; they may make your pit more comfortable, but they won’t save you. Whether you dug your own pit or someone dug it for you, God is in the business of rescuing people from the pits, it’s part of his job description. Just ask David.
Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. and online. Visit www.newlifedenton.org for more information or www.drjimmann.com.