Saturday, August 18, 2012

Help! My Life Is Stuck In a Rut!

How do I Get Out of a Rut?     

Have you ever felt like you were stuck in a rut?  Do you feel like your life is boring now?  Does it feel like the world is passing you by?  If you haven’t ever felt at least a little bored with your life at some time you are definitely in the minority.  Or do you feel like you are in waiting for some important task or deed?  Do you feel like that ‘big adventure’ is always just beyond your grasp?

Let’s take a look and see how to deal with ‘boring’ or ‘trapped’ in a way that is helpful.

Before you decide that you must get out of your rut or boring life, you need to consider that getting out of a boring situation is often traumatic and not fun at all.  Take Moses.  What a guy he was!  As a grown man he must have felt some discontentment with his life.  Why else would he have been out of his comfort zone defending a Jew to the point of killing an Egyptian?  There are several ideas floating around regarding the upbringing of Moses.  How long did he stay with his Jewish mother after he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter?  How much of his Jewish heritage did he know?  Regardless of the answers, he should have had a strong allegiance to both the Jews and the Egyptians.  Maybe he wasn’t discontent.  Maybe he was just tired of the way things were and set out on his own time to change the status-quo.

         First BIG lesson learned from Moses:  getting out of a rut can be a lot more trauma than it is worth!  You definitely want ‘change for the better’ instead of just ‘change’.

So, our example Moses is out of his rut and into total chaos and turmoil.  He winds up taking care of a bunch of sheep.  He left one rut for an even deeper rut. 

Second lesson:  Moses definitely stepped out of the bounds of God’s will when he was in Egypt.  The good news was that God did not forsake Moses.  God was with him through the next stage of his life.  Moses had forty years to get over all that he had lost when he escaped Egypt with his life and nothing else.  To begin with Moses was really discontent.  He had changed one rut for another rut. 

Third lesson:  When Moses became content with his life as a shepherd and the rut in which he was living, God came along and took Moses out of his comfort zone.  It was traumatic.  Moses had grown content living in his rut. 

Moses was able to grow content in the rut in which he lived by contemplating on God.  Just like the shepherd boy named David who was born many generations later, Moses spent his time caring for sheep considering God.  He made good use of his time spent in that rut. 

Now, many Christians find themselves in a rut today.  They may be trapped in a boring job, a difficult financial situation, a life of loneliness, a life defined by illness, or a very nice life that just does not seem to be enough.    

These people spend time considering their own lives, and what they would like to do that they are not able to do.  They are looking for ‘God’s will for their lives’.  They never seem to hear from God exactly what great thing He wants accomplished by them.  They keep looking.  Their life stays boring.  The rut never changes.  They keep asking, ‘WHAT DOES GOD WANT OF ME?’

I can tell you EXACTLY what God wants of you.  He wants you to take Him seriously.  Take him seriously every waking moment.  Take Him seriously with every thought.  Take Him seriously with every single action. THAT is what God wants of you.  He wants your full attention.  In giving Him your full attention two things will happen.

First, your focus is changed from your circumstances to pleasing God as totally as is humanly possible.  When this happens you are instantly out of your rut.  Your physical circumstances will be the same, but your focus has changed your attitude. 

Second, as you keep God as the apple of your eye, the door is opened for changes in your circumstances. 

You may be wondering how someone starts ‘to take God seriously’.  A good place to start is to start with the Ten Commandments.  Read and take each one seriously.  Try to actually do the things they tell you to do.   Exodus chapter 20:1-17 gives us some instructions.

1.  And God spake all these words, saying,

2. I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

(God identifies Himself and then gives them rule number one.)

V-3. (commandment #1)Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

(Don’t waste your time giving homage to any other god.))

V-4.  (commandment #2) Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

(No graven images – nothing of God can be contained in a relic, statue, wood carving, or anything else.  It is like trying to put the entire ocean in a tiny bottle.  Also, beware of tangible items like homes, cars, riches in general, personal goals, or anything that puts the God of creation in second place.  Now this is where most people fall down in their Christian walk.  God is not saying that you cannot have tangible objects and wealth, but He is saying don’t put anything above Him.  Simple to say, but often hard to do.  And remember that it counts against you even on the smallest scale.)

V-5.   Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

V-6.  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

V-7. (commandment #3) Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

(Watch what you say!  A filthy mouth may be acceptable to a large part of society, but it is NOT acceptable to God.  Also keep in mind that saying you are a Christian but not acting like a Christian can arguably be a form of taking God’s name in vain.)

V-8.  (commandment #4) Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

(Attend a worship service to the best of your ability on Sunday.  Observe the mental day of rest as you let God handle all your troubles on that day.  Rest in the Lord.  The Lord’s rest is available to His children 24 7’s, but we should take special advantage of it on the Lord’s day.  What a blessing that is to us.  Are you worrying about your next house payment?  Medical problems? College for kids?  Student loans?  Your job situation? Family problems?  How to get that new pair of shoes for your tired aching feet?  Make a special point to list those things on Sunday and turn them over to God.  Just enjoy the day.)

V-9.  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

V-10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

V-11. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

V-12. (commandment # 5) Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

(This is a commandment that has a promise connected to it.  Family is important.  Do for your parents what you can.  Probably what most parents want from their children the very most is to be part of their lives.  Incorporate parents into your life as much as possible.  I know there are circumstances that may make this impossible in some cases.  In those instances forgiveness may be in order.  Restoration of fellowship is not possible in some situations, but forgiveness is still in order.  Do this in obedience to God, and do it for your own sake and the sake of your own family.)

V-13.  (commandment #6) Thou shalt not kill.

(Don’t murder anyone.  Also, don’t murder someone’s reputation.)

V-14.  (commandment #7) Thou shalt not commit adultery.

(Be faithful to your spouse.  It doesn’t matter what the world has to say about it.  By the way, God will NEVER lead you to happiness by leading you to leave your spouse for a lover.  God will NEVER lead any of His children to do anything that is outside the boundaries of the rules set down for us in the Bible.)

V-15.  (commandment #8) Thou shalt not steal.

(If it isn’t yours leave it alone.  God will provide what you need.)

V-16. (commandment # 9) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

(Tell the truth.  Don’t twist it or spin it in your favor or the favor of friend.  Tell the truth to yourself in every instance.  Don’t make things worse than they are.  Don’t make them better than they are.)

V-17.  (commandment #10) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

(If God has given something to someone else, then it belongs to them.  Truthfully, whatever it is, it wasn’t fashioned to fit you.  You would not be happy with the things that God has made for someone else.  Look for the good things He has for you.  Forget what others have.  It is much better to wait a while to get something made especially for you than to spend time coveting something that really belongs to someone else.)

In John 13:34-35 Jesus gave us more information on our personal behavior.  He said:

34. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

35.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Jesus loved us so much that He set aside His own comfort and did what was necessary to make salvation possible for each individual.  That is how He loved us.  That is how we are to love others.  We are to set aside our own plan and try to operate on God’s plan.  We do KNOW that plan for each individual is to take God seriously.  That starts with obedience. 

Obedience includes the tiniest details of our lives. 

Often, in doing a checkup on one’s own obedience to God, a person is inclined to look at the behavior of Christians around them and compare their own behavior to other Christians.  This is foolish and wrong.  The standard is Jesus Christ.  I know that no human can match up to Him, but He is our example.  Christians are always to strive to be more like Christ.

When you start looking at changing your behavior to be more like Christ, you realize that you have a lifetime of work before you.  It is very challenging for everyone.  You can’t become perfect, but you can become more like Christ.   

The second that you wake up in the morning you should thank God for His presence, life, family, and the day.  Then ask Him to set the order of your day to please Him. 

By the way, giving thanks is being obedient to God. 

1 Thessalonians 5:18

 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Prayer is obedience.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
 Pray without ceasing.
This is critical to changing your focus from the things of the world onto the Lord.  A prayerful attitude helps you put the emphasis on how God wants you to react to each event of your day instead of how it affects you or how you react to it.  (That really difficult person may deserve a sarcastic and witty reply, but will it please the Lord?  When you are stressed to the limit will it please the Lord if you vent your anger on the first available person?  Will it please the Lord if you spend money you don’t have on something you don’t need because it makes you feel better for about five minutes?.......)

You may be asking what’s in it for me?  Why should I disrupt my routine to give more time and thought into pleasing God?   Well, wait a minute, I thought you were in a rut and wanted change?  The question is do you really want a change or how badly do you want it?  Do you want it badly enough to put God first in your thoughts? 

Like Moses you may grow content serving God in the place where you began to put His will first.  Actually, you are out of the rut as soon as you begin to live your life with the purpose of pleasing God by taking Him seriously.

What would happen if just a few thousand people in each nation of the world began to actually spend their time considering each action in regard to pleasing the Lord? 

It really doesn’t matter what you personally are doing now.  It doesn’t matter what you love to do or what you hate to do.  It doesn’t matter what your interests, skills, hobbies, social or economic standing, or education level may be.  This is a one size fits all solution: Take God seriously.  Make it priority one to consider how a child of God is supposed act and react.  You will find that this attitude, this focus, can go with you anywhere that a Christian should go. 

Are you a construction worker?  Take God seriously at work. 
Are you a retired guy who would rather play golf than eat?  Take God seriously when you play golf.  (That means no cheating.)

Are you a busy executive at a large firm?  Take God seriously at work. 

Are you a busy stay at home mom raising energetic kids?  Take God seriously as you work.  He is definitely taking you seriously!

 Honestly, whatever you do, you cannot separate parts of your life from your core values.  If you are able to leave your Christian values behind, then you are either a baby Christian refusing the meat of the word, OR you are not really a Christian at all.

 For the good of your own soul and life – take God seriously.  Do the things He says to do

For the good of your own family and friends – take God seriously.  Do the things He says to do.

For the good of your business or job – take God seriously.  Do the things He says to do.

For the good of your country and the entire world – take God seriously.  Do the things He says to do.

James 1:25

 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Set your heart to follow the instructions in this Psalm:

Psalm 15
1.  Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?

2. He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

3. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

4. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.

5. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

 Take it seriously to do the things God says to do.  You will change your life for the better.

Barbara Henderson