Stuck is a place

Stuck is a place

Have you ever felt stuck?

Maybe life has been hard on you. People have let you down. Things haven’t turned out like you hoped. Again. And again.

Until it feels like, that’s how it’s always going to be. For you. You look at other people, at how things seem to go so well for them.

And wonder why it’s never you.

Or maybe you have been hard on you. You made a critical mistake. Something maybe you didn’t understand at the time. But something that seems so painfully obvious now, with that awful clarity of hindsight.

Even so, you keep doing it to yourself. Again. And again. Until it feels like you’re never going to get it right. It seems like it’s so easy for everyone else.

But it feels like it’s never easy for you.

Or maybe you’re living in some kind of shadow, with expectations that have nothing to do with you. But that have been dumped all over you. Again. And again. Knowing that you’ll never hear the end of it, if you don’t try to live up to some impossible standard.

And you’ve fallen short so many times. That it feels like no matter how hard you try, it probably won’t really count, even if you do.

Like you’ll never measure up.

You’re stuck.

Turtle on her back.png

And it doesn’t matter where that stuck comes from – family and friends, yourself, work, life in general.

Wherever it comes from, once you and I get hit with that kind of stuck, it’s like nothing we do will ever be good enough.

Elisha, the prophet, is just like you and me. And Elisha, is stuck.

Let me tell you just a little about Elisha, and you’ll see why I say he’s stuck.

Elisha was trained by Elijah. And Elijah? Elijah was amazing. Nothing short of the greatest prophet of his time. And pretty much all time.

And everywhere Elijah went, there was Elisha. Helping Elijah, learning from Elijah. People saw them together all the time. It didn’t take long for people to stop seeing Elisha as Elisha, his own person. And to start seeing him as Elijah, Junior. Elijah number two. As the next Elijah.

Which would be an incredible thing. Because Elijah was amazing. So amazing that after naming Elisha as his successor - instead of dying (like the rest of us) - God took Elijah into heaven in a chariot of fire. 

Leaving Elisha behind.

To face everyone’s expectations that he would be Elijah, Junior. Elijah number two. To see if Elisha would measure up. To see if he was good enough.

Elijah hasn’t been gone a day. And the second-guessing has already started. With his closest friend and supporter.

The Bible puts it like this: “But Elisha’s servant objected saying, ‘How can I set this before a hundred people?’”

Translation: “Are you sure that’s going to work? Don’t you think we should do it another way? That’s not how Elijah did it. Is that even possible? You were with Elijah, and he never did anything like that. You should know better.”

Elisha is stuck.

When you and I get stuck, there’s a critical moment. Too often, without really even thinking about it, we respond to that critical moment by listening to whoever or whatever it was that got us stuck. Letting that stuff shout down the truth. And then – again, without really even thinking about – agreeing with it.

And instead of stuck being a moment, something we run into. Stuck becomes for us, a place.

Because once we agree with stuck, we draw lines, build fences, and throw up walls for ourselves.

Walls that are not grounded in reality. Walls that have nothing to do our actual limits, or the full extent of what we are capable of doing.

Once that happens, once we start doing that to ourselves, it’s easy to start making up limits for everyone else. Including God.

I can tell you from experience that it’s hard not to.

Which is why that moment, the moment we realize that we’re stuck, is so critical.

Because in that moment, when you and I are getting pummeled with expectations, with doubts, with guilt, with failure, with fear. You and I are going to agree. With somebody.

You can’t prevent it. You and I are hard-wired to do it.

When we get stuck, we’re going to agree with somebody. That’s human nature.

And who that somebody is – it depends upon who we’re looking at, when we get stuck.

If we’re looking at our friends and family, ourselves, work, life in general, when we get stuck. When we’re looking at whoever it is, or whatever it is, that got us stuck…here’s what happens next:

We’re going to look at other people, at how things seem to go so well for them. We’ll wonder why it’s never us.

And without really thinking about it, we’ll agree - that’s just the way it is. For us.

We’ll tell ourselves that it all seems so easy for everyone else. But it’s never that easy for us.

And without really thinking about it, we’ll agree - that’s just the way it is. For us.

We’ll feel like no matter how hard we try, it probably won’t really count even if we do. Like we’ll never measure up.

And without really thinking about it, we’ll agree - that’s just the way it is. For us.

That is when it happens. When stuck goes from being a moment, to being a place. Because we agreed - that’s just the way it is.

So we moved into stuck, unpacked, and bought furniture.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Because we do have a choice.

Thank God we have a choice.

We see it with Elisha. Elisha gets stuck. That critical moment happens for him. Just like you and me.

Elisha agrees. Just like you and me. And stuck happens.

But for Elisha, stuck is just a moment, something to pass through. For Elisha, stuck doesn’t become a place.

Not because Elisha missed out on getting pummeled with expectations, with doubts, with guilt, with failure, with fear. Elisha got hit. And hit hard.

By his closest friend and supporter.

But stuck doesn’t become a place for Elisha.

Because of who Elisha is looking at, because of who Elisha agrees with, when stuck happens.

Elisha makes a deliberate choice when stuck happens. Elisha chooses to be grounded in reality, and to look to God. To agree with God, that stuck doesn’t have to be a place. To see that God loves us, and that if we listen to God’s voice, if we rely on God, stuck won’t be a place.

That makes all the difference.

And it’s something that all of us, no matter who we are, what we think we’ve done, what we believe. Or if we believe. All of us have been given the grace to do.

When stuck happens, and you can be sure that it will.

When stuck happens, there is one thing that will make all the difference.

When stuck happens, you can choose.

To be grounded in reality. To look to God.

Check yourself. Who are you looking to?

 

Sunday’s Readings