Ever been in a pit? Ever been stuck in the miry clay? Ever felt like you are sinking deeper and deeper as the days passed by?
I’m not talking about a dirt pit on the side of the road. As bad as it would be to get stuck in one of those, the pit I’m talking about is much scarier and much more dangerous. It’s the pit that King David speaks about in Psalm 40.
“I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. 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 40:1-2
What’s the pit? It isn’t really a place as much as it is a state of being – a state that many find themselves in today. It’s a state of discouragement. It’s a state of frustration. It’s a state of despair. It’s a state where you find yourself crying out and saying “what can I do to get out of this!?!?!”
Have you ever been in a pit? Are you in one now? Being in a pit doesn’t mean that you are bad or you are sinful. It means you are human. We all go through pits. The problem isn’t when we fall into a pit; the problem is when – to quote a popular commercial from the late 80s – “WE’VE FALLEN AND WE CAN’T GET UP.”
There are too many people who have fallen and can’t get up. That isn’t how God designed for us to live. No way! God designed us to live lives of victory, not defeat. Lives of hope, not despair. Lives on the Rock, not in the pit. And this year’s Passion Retreat, OUT OF THE PIT, is your chance to do something about it.
Once of the perks of my job is that I get to talk to a lot of people and see a broader perspective on life – not just from my own narrow view. Believe me, the #1 reason people are struggling today is not because they are evil or lazy or undisciplined or lukewarm. Forget all of those things – that is what the devil wants to convince you of. He loves to get you down in a pit and then convince you that “if you were a good person you’d have gotten out by now. You must be really bad if you’re still stuck in here.” NONSENSE!
The #1 reason people are struggling is not because they are bad, but because they are simply discouraged. We lack hope. And life without hope isn’t fun. When there’s no hope, the simplest thing becomes difficult and the lightest weight becomes burdensome. Nothing is easy when you’re in a pit and you lack hope. That’s why I’ve chosen this topic as the theme for this year’s retreat.
So here’s what you need to do if you’re in a pit:
1. ACKNOWLEDGE IT
Nothing changes until you realize that you need to change. That is a fact of life. You’re in a pit. You’re not where you need to be. Your life is not on track. Your relationships are not on track. Your career is not on track. YOU’RE IN A PIT. Stop making excuses. Acknowledge it.
2. ADMIT IT
Something powerful happens when things move from thought to word. When we admit our problems to others, they become real and there is a sense of accountability. Often I find myself saying “I need to be a better husband and do _______ more for Marianne” [I said you have to admit it but I didn’t say you have to admit it to the whole wide world on your blog!].
When I say that sentence to myself, usually nothing ends up happening – nothing significant at least. But when I utter those same words to Marianne or someone else, trust me, something is going to happen. There’s a sense of accountability and realness when you utter it with your mouth. So find a friend or go to your spouse and tell them “I’m in a pit. I am not where I need to be. I need help getting out.”
3. Address it (to God)
Forgive me for the bad alliteration but what I am trying to say is cry out to God and ask God for help. Psalm 25 is a great psalm to pray when you’re in this situation. Let the words of the Psalmist go deep into your heart as he says:
“In you, LORD my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.”
4. Attack it
Come up with a game plan. Break your pit down into parts and attack it piece by piece. We usually focus most of our efforts on this step, but to be honest, I think we’d be better served by spending more time at steps 1-3 and less time here. Trust me…
No matter how long you've been in your pit, don’t think for one second that God has forgotten you or forsaken you. No matter how you got stuck, no matter how long you’ve been stuck, or no matter how much you think you deserve to get stuck, your Deliverer is waiting to lift you out of that pit and set your feet on a rock.