Monday, April 15, 2013

The Power of The Rut


Being raised in the country and living on a farm I grew up with a common necessity to drive anything and everything. It’s not that I’m a good driver, but I can say I have had a whole lot of experience for a man my age.

Some of my earliest memories involve me sitting on my daddy’s knee helping him drive. Now don’t try this today … remember I was raised in a day when seat belts were an option you could get on special order fancy cars and there was no such thing as a car seat or air bag.

All of our cars had 4/60 air conditioner with wing glass directional assist. That’s 4 windows rolled down at 60 miles an hour. Unless it was a pickup and they came equipped with a 2/60 plus wing glass and a floor vent that blew dirt from the floorboard up into your eyes as an added driver challenge.

When I was 10 or 11 years old my dad brought home a Cushman scooter. It had a push down kick start and I was not heavy enough to crank it very easily. I would push it up to the front porch and prop it up on the bottom step and get it primed good by pouring a little gas in the carburetor then jump off the porch onto the peddle in front of the seat and just hope it popped off. If it did, I could drive it to school and if not, I’d have to take the tractor.

Looking back on it now it seems odd but at that time it was perfectly normal that neither the tractor nor the scooter had any brakes … I mean not a lick of brakes … nothing that even resembled slowing down. We lived on a dirt road and I could usually find a rut or some sand to swerve back and forth in to slow myself down and then there was always the ditch or a small pine sapling. I learned to calculate things pretty good after a while and found several creative ways to get myself out of the jam I had just gotten myself into. Ya know, once you get in a rut, it ain’t always pretty.

I can tell that my upbringing warped me a little because a few years ago I didn’t think twice about trading for an old John Deere which had no brakes … sounded like a good deal to me. Well, after church on a Wednesday night Brenda and I drove up to our ranch in northeast Texas and got settled in our bunk house around 2am. She woke early and decided to quietly climb down the ladder go out and start mowing a 50 acre pasture before it got too hot. Instead of choosing her tractor, she got on that John Deere because it had a smaller shredder attached to it. A little after daylight she decided she needed a break and so she headed back down the hill, along the creek towards the bunkhouse. It had been uphill on the way out to work but on the way back she quickly realized that she was going to need some brakes. Well, she didn’t have any.

There I was, enjoying my snooze up in the loft … the rooster hadn’t even crowed enough times to wake me up yet and all of the sudden, ka-wham! The whole house shook and almost moved off the blocks … she done found something to stop herself … the wall right beside the toilet which was in the bathroom just underneath the loft in which I was no longer snoozing.

The tractor engine stopped and I immediately knew what had happened. I quickly climbed down out of the loft and tried to lay myself out on the living room floor in a mangled display. She came running up on the porch and busted through the door and saw me laying there acting all addled like she had knocked me clean out of bed and downstairs. Then she started laughing through her tears – she said, “I was afraid you might be using the bathroom and I’d killed you!” Thank the Lord nobody was hurt but it did take me near all day to replace the broken 2x4’s in that wall.

Let me get back to my message. When you work a farm or live on a dirt road and it rains, you quickly learn about the power of a rut. You know what a rut is? A rut is a wallowed out path, a deep groove made from driving in the same place over and over and over again … the more you follow the rut, the deeper it gets.

Oh let me tell you, a rut can take over … it’s like a surprise autopilot … once you’re in rut it’s like your vehicle is possessed … the rut is going to do it’s best to take you right back to the same place you went last time – good or bad … it don’t care … you are in the power of the rut.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve slipped off into a rut only to end up in the ditch. Why? Because that’s where the rut went and once in the rut, you go where it goes. Speeding up don’t help, slowing down don’t help, turning the wheel won’t always end up like you imagined … It can be a real fight to get out of a rut.

Habits can be ruts. Doing the same thing over and over again can create a rut. Doing the same thing  over and over again expecting different results is insanity … why? Because a rut just leads back to the same old end.

Some folks live in a rut all of their lives. Perhaps it’s a rut they made or a rut that somebody else made and they just fell off into it.

Some folks are in a rut and don’t even know it. Just as happy as if they had good sense.  Oblivious to the ditch that awaits them just down the road – the same ditch they ran into last time – and they can’t figure out why?

It’s like going in circles … at some point you might look up and say … “Haven’t I seen this before!”

Well, the Children of Israel found themselves in a rut recorded in Deuteronomy, chapter 2. Some scholars believe they had been in this rut for more than 38 years. Let’s read:

Deuteronomy 2 NKJV
1  Then we turned and journeyed into the wilderness of the Way of the Red Sea, as the LORD spoke to me, and we skirted Mount Seir for many days.
2  And the LORD spoke to me, saying:
3  “You have skirted this mountain long enough; turn northward.”

Deuteronomy 2 - The Message
2  Then GOD said,
3  “You’ve been going around in circles in these hills long enough; go north.”

The Children of Israel had been in a rut ever since they disobeyed God and began wandering in the Wilderness. They had been going around and around and around this same mountain for perhaps 38 years. They were definitely in a rut.

A rut is nothing but a grave with both ends open.

What can be done about ruts of life? How do you overcome the power of the rut?

1.  Recognize the rut
a.   Don’t just go happily along in life experiencing failure after failure, drama after drama, dead end after dead end …
b.   Ask yourself: Have I been here before?
c.   Are you rebellious?
d.   Are you out of control?
e.   Recognize the rut!
2.  Realize that God has a better plan for your life

God told the Children of Israel to go north. Why? Because that where the promise land was. God wanted to reposition them in the plains of Moab across from Jericho and getting them out of the rut and down the road was going to be a fight.

The reason why it took 38 years to get them out of the rut they were in is because God was waiting for all of their rebellion to die. (vs. 14-18)

You can’t always take the old ways into your new days.

Sometimes we have to completely let go of one thing before we can fully get hold of another.

Only God can tell you what and when!

What you are going through may not be punishment for your past but rather positioning for your future.

If your life is just going in circles, unproductive, unhappy, rebellious, usually angry, recurring drama, frequently out of control … you may be in a rut. Recognize it … and Realize that God has a better plan … then -

3.  Act, Don’t React
a.   Don’t over-correct
b.   Make small adjustments/corrections

Just one small step … one small correction … one small change

The small change could be as simple as committing to daily prayer, scripture reading, asking for forgiveness, saying I’m sorry, letting go of a past hurt, or turning over some new leaf in life.

Once you take that step – once you make that adjustment – you are committed … then:

c.   Hold the new course firm
d.   Straightening yourself out at the earliest opportunity

You will feel it when you are out of the rut … now straighten up and stay on the high ground.

One step out of the rut will put you on a new road and can change your life forever.

Perhaps the one step you can take today is to turn your life over to Christ. Or maybe you have been saved but you are holding out on Jesus and reserving one area of your life over which you have not yet made Him Lord.

Today you can begin a new course. Haven’t you been skirting this mountain long enough? How many times are you going to go around and around this mountain before you recognize that you are in a rut going nowhere?

God has a better plan for your life. He knows where your milk and honey is and He will help you in your struggle to get there.

What you need to do right now is “Take the first step!” Just a small step … out of the rut and onto a new way of life … What is your step today?