"…for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." (Proverbs 8:11)
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Unstuck

In my early teens, I went on a memorable trip to Cuxhaven, a small town on the north coast of Germany. Ironically, I don’t recall whether I traveled with classmates or my family, but the trip itself has stuck in my mind—stuck being the operative word.

Droves of tourists travel to Cuxhaven each year to visit the Wadden Sea National Park and enjoy the cathartic experience of wading through mud. When the tide rolls out along the coast, the seabed turns from sandy loam to viscous slime. The mud extends hundreds of yards out to the horizon, making it possible to slog one’s way on foot across the tidal flats to small dune islands offshore. Mudflat hiking is both exhilarating and exhausting, and feels not unlike walking through quicksand (although not as perilous). With each step, you sink into the wet earth, the muck rising above your ankles. Lunging forward, you wait for the ground to stabilize beneath your toes, then extricate your other foot and continue plodding along.  

The brisk sea air and swooping gulls provide pleasant distractions along the journey, but once in a while, the mudflat catches you in its grip. In those moments, you humbly extend a hand and ask a fellow traveler for added leverage to help you get unstuck. You shouldn’t walk alone.

For the past year, I have waded through the mire—trudging forward, day by day, in the wake of losing my husband. At times, each step required my full focus, as I wriggled free from the sticky grief to forge ahead. Other days, I chose to rest and listen to the sound of birds and distant waves while savoring the cool breeze on my face. Standing firm in unfamiliar surroundings, I experienced brief but not infrequent moments of beauty and peace. And daily, without fail, God was there to pull me out of the mud. To keep me from being trapped in my circumstance.

He did it through the prayers uttered by friends and strangers, through hugs in church pews and laughter in coffee shops. When I extended my hands to the heavens in the quiet morning hours or gripped my pillow in the dead of night, He was there. A gentle pull, a whisper of strength. Another step.

The ebb and flow of the North Sea tide is constant. Eventually, the waters move in again, nudging wanderers back toward the shore. Mud gives way to solid ground, and you can pick up the pace. Aching muscles and wobbly steps still bear witness to the challenge of the journey, but in time, you resume your stride. Each step comes without thinking, and you can walk freely again. Lighter. Stronger. Unstuck.

***

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.

PSALM 40:1-2

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