We were sitting on a seat taken out of a missionary’s van in the middle of the lobby of a Nicaraguan hotel. At this point, the other two youth leaders and I didn’t know what else to do. We sent the teenagers up to their rooms to get some rest while we racked our brains on what our next move was. The problem was, it didn’t seem like we were going to move—at least for a little while. So, we simply decided we’d pretend. We would pretend that the van seat we were sitting on was a real van and this would be our ride home. We needed something to do to alleviate the feelings of disbelief in what had just happened.
We’d missed our plane. Three leaders. Eight teenagers. We‘d spent eight days serving beside two wonderful missionaries who moved down to Nicaragua to spread the love of Christ, and now it looked like we’d be spending some more time with them. The traffic that day had been abnormally heavy and we’d arrived at the airport fifteen minutes before our plane was to take off. They’d refused to let us board, and the next flight with enough room would be four days away and it would cost a pretty penny.
It was not a fun phone call to have to make back home. The one word that described that situation for me was:
STUCK. We were stuck in a foreign country, thousands of miles from home, not knowing exactly how we were going to pay for a flight, wondering how the parents would take the news (everyone was very understanding), and we weren’t exactly sure what the
next step was.
Sometimes in youth ministry, or any other ministry at that, we can find ourselves in the season of stuck. We’re not experiencing any forward progress. We don’t see anything new; the view is simply, the same. We have no idea what to do.
No one likes to be stuck. Be it stuck in a snow bank or stuck in an embarrassing situation, it’s not a situation we hope for when we wake up each morning.
But maybe—just maybe—it’s the best thing that can happen to us.
More likely than not, God has a big reason for your stuck-ness. To be clear, I’m not talking about being stuck in sin. I’m talking about a season of life that we find ourselves in where all we can do is look up and ask God to have His way in us. And though our eyes should be kept on Him in every season, in reality many times this just isn’t the case. That’s when God allows us to get stuck, so that all we can do is look to Him.
Think of Joseph. He had dreams. He was favored. He was loved. Then, in a moment, he was stuck, really stuck. In a pit. You can’t get more stuck than being in a pit with no way out. I’m sure he found himself betrayed. Afraid. Alone. This certainly wasn’t what he expected. But if he only knew then what was put into motion that day, and where that pit would eventually bring him. You see,
If Joseph had not been stuck in a pit, then Joseph would not have been leader of a nation.
The pit is the place of Perseverance In Transition. Perseverance sounds nice, but we actually have to experience it, not just understand it from an intellectual or theological viewpoint. Typically, this happens when there is a transition that takes place in life. For Joseph, it was getting thrown into a pit and being forced to leave everything he knew in his young life. God’s purpose would not have been wrought in him if he avoided the pit that day. Joseph was a good kid, but he was self-focused, as many of us are. God wanted Him to be a great leader, therefore Joseph needed to learn to be God-focused.
That is why God allowed the season of stuck for Joseph. And that is why the season of stuck, or the pit, is a place to embrace. It’s there that God works on the conditions of our hearts.
The pit is the place where we are stripped down of self-righteousness, self-reliance, self-confidence, self-validation, self-centeredness, self-actualization, and the like. It’s the place where our faith is tested, and it’s the place we will look back on and thank God for—that He allowed us some time there so that our perspective could be moved off ourselves, and onto Him.
Are you allowing the pit to grow you up, or are you giving up because the circumstances aren’t what you wanted or what you like?
Are you stuck in a rut just waiting for that big break? Maybe God is trying to do something more than just give you a big break, maybe He’s trying to form in you a big heart so that you’re able to lead something that is effective and long-lasting.
Are you stuck with not knowing what to do with that one teenager? Maybe God is trying to form something in you first.
Are you stuck just managing youth ministry and going through the motions, or are you allowing God to work a greater focus on Him in you?
Are you stuck in your own walk with Christ? Maybe you’ve been refusing to let Him peel some of the self-focus off your heart.
Are you stuck in the season of wondering what does God have this youth ministry here for? Maybe He is aligning that purpose now, by aligning your heart to handle what His purpose is going to be.
What pits have you been stuck in? Have you been able to see
God’s redemptive purpose after the fact?
Craig Campbell is the Lead Pastor of Faith Tabernacle Church, which is located in his hometown of Lockport, NY. He has been serving the local church for more than eleven years in different capacities such as youth ministry, worship ministry, young adult ministry, and more. He and his wife Jennie have three amazing kids whose names are Leland, Hudson, and Adalyn, as well as a baby girl on the way in February.