Challenges

Stuck, Stranded, and Out of Options

Jesus teaches with parables and through our experiences. Yesterday I was reflecting on an experience I had that serves as a great analogy for life and marriage. I got myself stuck and stranded beyond hope, but my rescue was within grasp the entire time…

Firefighting

When I was 23, I trained as a Helitack Firefighter for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). I never really set out to learn the art and science of wildland firefighting, but given the opportunity, I couldn’t pass it up! While my time as an actual firefighter was extremely limited, it made for some great adventures – and life lessons.

You see, I only operated as what is known as a “single resource” firefighter, on call, aside from my normal job duties at the DNR (which were totally unrelated). So when I got called to a fire, I was a loner.

This meant that during the summer I could get a call out of the blue and be mobilized to a fire within an hour. The calls were most frequent when conditions were especially dry and more frequent fires meant the normal response teams were preoccupied.

My first fire (before my Helitack training) was both boring and terrifying. My lack of experience meant that I was only useful as a Camp Helper. My job was to do everything around base camp that no one else wanted to do: clean showers, remove trash, pick up litter, etc. While my evenings and mornings were very eventful, our days were monotonous with most everyone up on the hill actively fighting the fire.

Hot & Dirty

One day, after the firefighters were disbursed up the hill, I decided I needed to wash up. It was very hot and the community showers were pretty gross, so I hopped in an old pickup truck and ventured to a nearby lake with a towel and a bar of soap. Though no one really cared, it wasn’t exactly in the rule book to leave basecamp to bath in a lake – I weighed the risk of getting in trouble, and decided it was worth it!

I found a really great location with dirt road access. The water looked blue and refreshing, and there was a small beach that was well hidden from the road and lake traffic. I was miles from camp and no one knew I was gone, I figured I could take 30 mins to bathe without breaking rules or raising flags. As I drove down to the shore, I quickly realized that the dirt road was way more dirt than road…

As the sun blazed down, I carefully I inched the truck over rocks and dirt, roots and stumps to find a good spot to park. I didn’t want to risk getting stuck since I was ‘off-grid’ and calling for help meant trouble and embarrassment. As I crept over a particularly large hump, the unspeakable happened: I high-centered the truck. The drive wheels weren’t touching the ground and I was completely stuck.

The rear wheels dug in and were buried in the dry dirt, losing all traction and suspending the truck by it’s frame. The front tires were well seated but it was a two-wheel drive truck, rendering them useless.

I panicked. “This can’t be happening… I’m going to get fired… I have to fix this somehow.”

Fruitless Efforts

high_centered

High centered…

For nearly an hour, I dug around the frame of the truck with a screwdriver, a stick, and my hands. I hoped that I could lower the body of the truck enough to regain traction but the task was insurmountable – nothing was working. The truck was way too heavy and the dirt too compact. Still, I dug.

Sweat soaked my shirt and shorts, dirt caked deep into my skin and clothing. I had one 20oz bottle of water that was depleted, and no new hope of escape. I was exhausted and thirsty, stranded and ashamed.

Just when I was about to radio for help – and trouble – I stopped to think some more. Then it hit me.

The truck HAD four-wheel drive! I couldn’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner. “How could I have been so dense?“, I thought.

I started the truck, shifted into 4×4, the front tires engaged, and I simply drove away. I could’ve saved myself an hour of panic if I had only shifted into the right gear – connecting the wheels to the power.

After a 5 min turbo swim/bath, I dried off and headed back to camp. No one even realized I was gone.

Our rescuer

We can get ourselves into some pretty tough circumstances as married couples – irreconcilable arguments, financial hardship, emotional pain, you name it. When we high-center our marriage, our first inclination is usually to dig fast an dig hard. The problem is that this usually just leaves us tired, dehydrated, and stranded.

Jesus is like four-wheel drive. Without him, we’re stuck – spinning out, burying ourselves deeper in the problems that stranded us in the first place. But when we engage Jesus – trusting him completely – his power alone will get us through hopeless circumstances.

This post is not about escaping problems, it’s about trusting Jesus. Problems and hardships are inevitable, but when we trust Jesus with our marriages (and life), he will get us through to the other side the way he wants, in the timing he wants. He will calm the storm if we trust him. ( Mark 4:35-41 )

Selena and I would be divorced ten times over if it wasn’t for the grace and healing power of Jesus. We owe every ounce of who we are to him alone.

First steps in trusting Jesus

Sometimes it’s tough to know where to start. Here are some ways:

  1. Pray, ask, listen
    Talk to Jesus, ask him to help you trust him more, listen for his reply. He won’t leave you hanging. Repeat as often as possible.
  2. Read
    Learn who he is, what he says, and what he did. Knowing Jesus is the first step in trusting him.
  3. Take what he gives
    Jesus promises forgiveness (Matt 9:2), peace (John 14:27), and life (John 6:40). Learn what he promises, and trust that he will deliver.

(Photo by NDomer73, used under the creative commons license)

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