It had rained the night before. We knew it as we left the outdoor craft fair and saw the mud—and another car farther down the field that was being towed out. As I put the minivan in gear and backed up, the grassy mud clumped in our tire and we sank into it, too. The van wouldn’t move.
I turned off the ignition. We weighed our options. Thought about it. Time can change a lot of things, so after about three minutes I tried again.
We tried pushing it. I tried forward and then reverse. And then forward again. I turned the steering wheel both ways.
The harder I pushed on the gas pedal, the more the wheels spun and the deeper we were.
We’ve read the verse: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). We know it. And we try to live it, too. We think of starting a Bible study or beginning a new church ministry or adopting an orphanage. The idea sits in our mind, where we return to it often. But the timing never seems to work or no one else is interested or we aren’t really sure we’re ready yet.
All of which could be true.
But we want to do something—anything, maybe—so we pick something and run with it. When that little project is over (or flops) we pick something else entirely different. We tally up the tasks on our to-do lists and make room for one more, hurrying from one thing to another and spinning our wheels faster and faster. But never getting back to that Bible study or church ministry or orphanage, and never having time to.
Time to Get Unstuck
The craft fair organizers must have figured on a muddy field frustrating some of their attendees. And that some of us would need help. Two men with a tractor, a tow rope, and a four-wheeler went car to car, pulling them out of the mire. My mom flagged one of them down to tell them of our situation, and then we waited.
I watched cars going by on the gravel road next to the field. Just driving by. Not a care in the world. Sitting in a minivan that I was powerless to move, I almost envied their ease. Maybe I did envy it. A little. Was it really that easy to get around just a couple hours ago? Now all our plans were dependent on that tractor—and it was busy.
When it was finally our turn, one of the guys hooked the strap onto the back of our car and told me what to do.
“Don’t turn the wheel,” he said. “Just go straight—and use the gas. Don’t stop.”
They pulled us out. Just like that. I tried to be helpful, holding the wheel straight and keeping an eye on the tractor while slowly accelerating backwards. “That’ll do it!” one yelled and unhooked the strap from our van. We thanked them profusely and I put the car in forward. Stepped on the gas.
And I was stuck again.
Not Just About a Yes or No
Following Ephesians 2:10, Paul doesn’t talk about how to discern the will of God. He doesn’t tell us what big decisions to make. He doesn’t give us a list of works to do.
No, Paul begins telling the Ephesians that, whether Jewish or Gentile, they are one in Christ. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all believers are one body, united and reconciled to God. The Father.
“For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household” (Ephesians 2:18-19).
The God who saved us and planned works for us to do is our Father. Our Father!
Ephesians 2 isn’t just about guidance or knowing whether or not we should lead a Bible study. Our Father put us where we are in life to grow closer to Him and more aware of His work as we live out His plan for us. He already knows even our deepest secrets, and He invites us to live in such a way that we get to know Him more.
There’s a depth and complexity there that goes way beyond one or two life choices. He gives us things to do but He knows where we are. He knows our hearts. And He will lead us in every moment.
Sometimes that leading is as clear as a sunny day in Florida. Sometimes we have more than one option but can make a decision with a little thought. Sometimes we have to wait awhile. And sometimes we need help. Again.
We’ll Get There One Day
The tractor came back around and they hooked up the tow rope. Again. One of the guys traded places with me and told me to ride his four-wheeler while he drove our van out of the field to the road.
“But I might get stuck!” I warned him, afraid of my newfound propensity in going nowhere.
“You won’t,” he said.
The man with the tractor pulled us out again, and his partner smoothly guided the minivan to the road. The little four-wheeler lurched around behind them but never got stuck.
And we were on the road again. With a story to share for it.