I grew up in the seventies and eighties, during the era when television screenwriters loved quicksand. Everybody was always getting stuck in quicksand.
Does anybody else remember this? It usually happened during a midnight chase through a bog, but sometimes quicksand just appeared out of nowhere. I’m pretty sure Batman and Robin (boom! ka-pow! zap!) once got stuck in a quicksand cake.
I hate being stuck.
Getting stuck happens slowly. You don’t even realize it until you’re waist deep and can’t move. All of a sudden, there you are, and you aren’t going anywhere.
Maybe you’re in a relationship that has ground to a halt in every real way other than naming it. Maybe you’re trying hard to have a baby, crying your eyes out every month when your hopes are dashed again. Maybe you have dreams of doing something really beautiful with your one and only life, but you just can’t seem to find a way to quit your job. Maybe your current understanding of God is so flimsy that it’s crashing down all around you, but you just can’t seem to find a way to see anything differently.
Maybe you’re just now realizing that it’s going to take a whole lot more than will power to quit that thing you desperately need to quit.
In my forthcoming book, Beginnings (NavPress, releasing on January 1, 2016), I open with these words:
The ache had probably been creeping up on me, but I didn’t notice it until that night, sitting on the deck behind my suburban house looking out onto my suburban life. Isaac was two, and the twins were six months old. I was a pastor at a large church, I had been married for fourteen years, and my twenty-year high school reunion had come and gone. I didn’t go to that reunion. I didn’t have the energy for the awkwardness, the sizing up, and the plastic cups of stale beer to chase down our stale memories. But the ache that had been whispering through my body rattled to a clumsy stop on that night, in those suburbs, on that deck.
Being stuck is frustrating because no matter how hard you flail, eventually you realize you’re only getting stuck more deeply. It’s frightening because you aren’t sure you’ll ever get out.
But when we’re really honest, being stuck goes much deeper than jobs, marriages, or suburban lives. We’re afraid we’re stuck being ourselves, and that nothing really, truly good or generative will ever emerge out of the deep recesses of who we actually are.
A familiar story is told about a man who found himself stuck in the wilderness for forty long years, surrounded by the ache of loneliness and regret (and some very smelly sheep). One ordinary day, he noticed an extraordinary bush that was burning but was not being burned up. Out of that bush, God spoke to him, calling him to return the the place he had previously murdered a man, splitting his skull open like a watermelon and burying him in the sand. This God was calling this man to help an entire generation of people to get unstuck. The man finally found the courage to ask the name of this God who was calling him out of his stuckness and into a revolution.
“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh,” was the response this man got from the God who spoke from the bush. I will be what I will be. Of all the names that God could have chosen, God chose to be defined as a verb. If it is true that we are created in that generative image, then this is utterly good news to those of us who are stuck. Apparently, the God of the burning bush is the God of movement, the God who is forever getting stuck things unstuck.
Beginnings is my manifesto that we are not nouns, doomed to being stuck in quicksand. We are verbs, and we have deep goodness within these souls of ours, imbedded there by the God who is a verb. And that goodness need to come out, so that this stuck world will become unstuck.
Where are you stuck? What is your deck? What quicksand have you fallen into? Are you feeling the fear and the betrayal yet? Are you afraid it’s all over, and the rest of your life is just a dismal playing out of the decisions you’ve already made? Can you even begin to believe there is goodness in you that will help this generation of stuck people become unstuck?
Here’s what I want to tell you. Here’s why I wrote this book:
You are not a noun. You are a verb. You are endlessly becoming. This book is about partnering with God in creating and becoming, using every bit of pain and promise that your actual life has included. All of the breakdowns and all of the breakthroughs are ingredients in the dynamic stew of becoming, which is bubbling within you even as you read these words. Yes, all of the breakdowns, too, because endings have a role to play if we are going to see and embrace beginnings. All those hopes that stayed secret and died silent, lonely deaths. All the soaring dreams that came true, then crashed down around you, leaving you wounded and buried in the rubble. Breakdowns seem to be the necessary precursors to breakthroughs, though we shudder to admit it.
My hope is that you might be able to see that quicksand can actually be a birthplace of something beautiful and new. My hope is that you might find the breakthrough that leads you out of the quicksand.
This book is my offer to help you see it.
* * *
If you’d like to read the first two chapters of my new book, Beginnings, please click here. I’d love to hear what you think!
If you’d like to pre-order Beginnings (releasing on January 1st), click here.
Connect with me: