Devotions

When We’re Stuck In a Mess

August 23, 2018
“Then the LORD said to me, ‘You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.’” Deuteronomy 2:2-3 (NIV)
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We all have messes in our lives. Financial messes. Relationship messes. Health messes. Home messes. Business messes.

Messes that leave us feeling stuck. Like we may be stranded in this place of upheaval and unrest forever.

I’m sure that’s how the people of Israel felt as they were wandering through the desert. Stuck in a mess with no end in sight. You’ve probably read or heard this story found in the book of Exodus. God had miraculously set the Israelites free from the oppression and bondage of slavery in Egypt. But their unwillingness to fully trust Him and their blatant refusal to take possession of the Promised Land landed them in quite a mess. A 40-year, desert-wandering mess.

Thankfully, we discover in the book of Deuteronomy that their story isn’t over. Change is coming. The children of the Israelites, originally released from Pharaoh’s tyranny, are finally about to take possession of the land God said was theirs all along. But before they move forward, Moses has everyone pause to look back. He knows he won’t be going with them, so he wants to be sure to cement in their minds the faithfulness of God along their journey.

Moses reminds them of a time when they had been stuck circling the same mountain for too long. God spoke into their wandering and let them know it was time to head in a new direction.

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north’” (Deuteronomy 2:2-3).

It was a pivotal moment for them to remember. One where they had faced a life-changing choice. They could stay stuck, endlessly circling the same old place, or they could choose hope and head in a new direction with the Lord.

They could turn north.

I think this is the perfect time to pause and ask God if there’s anywhere we need to “turn north” in our own lives. Have we been circling the same messes for years and years with no end in sight? Are there areas we know we need to change but feel like it will require too much sacrifice?

Here’s a question we can ask ourselves right in the midst of our messes …

Am I letting this mess define me or refine me?

The answer to this question is crucial.

If I am letting a mess define me, I will feel hopeless.

If I am letting a mess refine me, I will be hopeful.

If the Israelites had looked at their 40-year track record of aimless wandering and defined themselves as rebellious failures, they would have lost all hope and kept right on circling. But because they embraced the correction and redirection of the Lord, they were able to turn around and move toward His promises with hope firmly planted in their hearts.

It’s time for our messes to stop defining us.

It’s time to embrace the refining process and turn north.

So how do we begin to turn north? We replace our old thoughts with empowering truths from God’s Word.

I call them “Go-To Scripts.” In other words, these statements can become our new patterns of thought. And these new patterns of thought will empower us for a new way of living. I’m sharing a list of some of my favorite “Go-To Scripts” with you today in our Reflect and Respond section because I don’t believe for one second we have to stay stuck in our current messes.

May we hear the Father’s voice, filled with grace and free from any hint of condemnation, declaring over us today, “It’s time to turn north, beloved.” And may we be found turning toward Him and moving forward with Him.

Dear Lord, thank You for continually offering me hope. I’m choosing to believe today that I don’t have to stay stuck in my messes, even if they are messes of my own making. I’m tuning my ear to Your voice today. I’m filling my heart and mind with the truth of Your Word. And I’m heading in a new direction with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY

James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES

Does your Bible-reading ever feel a bit dry and disconnected? Join Lysa TerKeurst on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Israel in 2019 that will forever change the way you read God’s Word. Scripture will come alive as you visit the actual places mentioned in the Bible. If you need a spiritual revival, you don’t want to miss this trip to the Holy Land. Reserve your spot here today!

CONNECT

Find real-life encouragement when you connect with Lysa TerKeurst here on Instagram.

REFLECT AND RESPOND

Here are some of Lysa’s favorite “Go-To Scripts” and the Scripture references that go with them. Share which one most resonates with you in our comment section today.

1. I was made for more than to be stuck in a vicious cycle of defeat. (Deuteronomy 2:3)

2. When tempted, I either remove the temptation or remove myself from the situation. (1 Corinthians 10:13-14)

3. I don’t have to worry about letting God down because I was never holding Him up — God’s grace is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)

© 2018 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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