God is in the deliverance business. He longs for you to be free, to know the love and presence that are better than life—and the power of His Word that defies all darkness. In Delivered, Beth Moore shares her own journey out of the pit and the way the poetic expressions of Psalm 40 rewarded her with a new song for her soul—given by her Savior and offered to you here in this soul-stirring book. You also can be free from the worst life has to offer and learn to take Christ’s mighty arm when he reaches into the depths, and says in a way you can finally hear, Need a hand?
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||4.60(w) x 7.20(h) x 0.70(d)|
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Life in the Pit
My man, our two dogs, and I just got home from a 1,700-mile road trip sewing five states together like a patchwork quilt. It's something we do several times a year.
When you insist on traveling cross-country with two sizable canines, you get to save your cash on motel rooms. We mostly stay in lodgings that have numbers in the names. I sleep between Keith (that's my man) and Beanie (one of the dogs), and from the sound of things, each has a deviated septum. I respond by turning up the air-conditioning unit, which in turn responds by freezing up and shutting down.
Folks who know how much we travel sometimes ask me why we don't get an RV. The answer, in a word: the bathroom. (Or is that two words?) The small space and lack of fresh air in an RV makes the presence of a bathroom so ... well ... inescapable. They say you get used to it, but do I really want to? Nope, the way I see it, we were not meant to get used to some things.
Like living in a pit.
But, unfortunately, we do. We can grow so accustomed to the surroundings of our pit that we wouldn't think of moving on without it.
Let's say for years you've been living in an old RV so small, you can't stretch your legs or stand up straight. Visualize the clutter of too much baggage in too small a space. Imagine the unavoidable odor of that cramped lavatory. Your clothes even start to smell like it.
Now, imagine that you've been offered a brand-new home. A real one on a solid foundation with big closets and wide-open spaces. You can hardly wait to move in. Filled with anticipation, you rev up the motor of the old RV and plow it right into the new living room, taking out a wall or two on the way. Ah, finally! A new place to call home! You settle back in your RV seat, take a deep breath, and poise yourself to feel something fresh. Something different. Then it hits you: that deep breath tasted a lot like that old lavatory. You'd hoped for a change, but though you're somewhere new, everything feels and smells hauntingly familiar.
As disheartening as this realization may be, it could turn out to be the best news you've heard all year. If it wakes you up to the possibility that every situation you're in feels like a pit because you're taking your pit with you, you've just learned something you really need to know: you could quit driving that stinking RV around.
If you figure out you're the one driving that old RV, please understand right now that the last thing I want to do is shame you. The only reason I recognize a mobile pit-dweller is because it takes one to know one. I just may have stumbled on the one thing I'm an expert on: life in the pit.
When it comes to pits, I guess I've lived in every conceivable kind. I've done the tour, trading in one model for another from childhood well into adulthood. A pit was my ever-present hell in times of trouble. And the only reason I have the audacity to write this book is because I'm not there anymore. I got out because something — Someone — worked for me. Trust me when I tell you this: if I can get out, anybody can.
Several months ago, God threw me into His Word to perform a sort of analysis of what a pit is exactly. I plopped open my trusty concordance, looked up every occasion where the term was used, and went to work. There, in the pages of Scripture, God showed me three ways we can get into a pit and a couple of ways we can get out. In the months that followed, I delivered some form of this message at three very different gatherings. The first was a group of four thousand women of all ages in California. The second was also a group of thousands, but comprised entirely of college girls. The third was a very polished studio audience at a taping for television.
Toward the end of each message, I asked the same questions. The first: "After all you've learned biblically about a pit, how many of you would say you've been in one?" In all three groups, every single hand in sight shot up into the air. The second question: "How many of you have gotten into various pits all three ways I spoke about?" Almost every single hand came up, mine included. I asked them to close their eyes for the last question: "How many of you would say you are in a pit right now?" To my surprise, a stunning majority of timid hands inched up — only shoulder high, just in case their neighbors were peeking.
So what's the big surprise? If I were a betting woman, I'd have wagered all three groups contained the cream of the crop of God-seeking, Jesus-following women. Many of them have been in Bible studies for years. Others look to them as the examples. As for the college girls, significant numbers of them sense God's call on their lives. Plenty are spiritual ... and miserable.
I've come to the conclusion that vastly more people are miserable than not. Far more feel defeated than victorious. Yep, poker faces aside, they're in a pit. I've also come to the conclusion that some pits are just decorated to look prettier than others. Don't let anybody kid you, though. A pit is a pit.
That's the trouble. Too often we don't recognize a pit when we're in one. One reason some of you nicer folks are in a pit without realizing it is because, in our Christian subculture, we think a pit of sin is the only kind there is. But as we perform a biblical analysis of a pit, we're going to have to think much broader than that. So here goes: you can know you're in a pit when ...
You feel stuck. Isaiah 42:22 says that a pit is a place where you feel trapped. You tend to feel your only options are to misbehave (i.e., have a kicking and screaming fit, hoping your flailing can help you escape) or submit (i.e., decide that you made your own bed and will die in it). Psalm 40 adds to the characteristics of a pit words like "slimy," "muddy," "miry."
Jeremiah 38:6 describes his pit as a place of sinking down. Imagine how much worse it was with sandals. No matter what's on your feet, you can take this fact to the spiritual bank: a pit only gets deeper. Low ground always sinks.
You can't stand up. In Psalm 69:2, David cried out, "I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing" (nkjv). If you're not already convinced, it's time you accepted the biblical fact that your soul has a very real enemy, and he is not flesh and blood. We can't keep on ignoring someone who is systematically trying to destroy our lives.
One way you can know you're in a pit is that you feel ineffective and utterly powerless against attack. You can't stand up to assaults, trials, or temptations because your feet are in the mud and mire.
I beg you to see that your enemy has a tremendous investment, not only in digging and camouflaging a pit in your pathway but also, should you tumble down, in convincing you to stay there after you fall in. He knows that in his pit you will feel powerless to stand up against him. There you are vulnerable to him and out of his way.
To the ancient Hebrews, a pit was a literal or figurative reference to the grave — to its threat — or to an abyss so deep the dweller within it felt like the living dead. Drawing from the figurative application, we'll define pit this way: a pit is an early grave that Satan digs for you in hopes he can bury you alive.
You've lost vision. Unlike that rank old RV, pits have no windows. Scripture paints them as places of darkness — the kind of darkness that impairs our vision. A pit is so poorly lit we can no longer see things that once may have been obvious to us. Without windows, we're convinced we have nowhere else to go. Yes, we can always look up — goodness knows that's the only opening we have — but we're often too focused on our sinking feet to crane our necks to the blinding sky. We become what the Bible calls stiff-necked.
Visibility extends no farther than six inches from our noses. We can't see out, so we turn our sights in. After a while, nearsightedness breeds hopelessness. We feel too buried in our present state to feel passionate about a promised future.
All image-bearers of God were intended to overflow with effervescent life, stirring and spilling with God-given vision. We were meant to see ourselves as part of something so much bigger than we are. Something vital. Something incredibly thrilling. But the eyes of some of us have adjusted to the darkness of the pit surrounding us. We've forgotten what we used to see or shrugged off those early divine encounters as something we must have made up when we were less mature, just as Susan Pevensie did after returning from Narnia.
In the final Narnia story, The Last Battle, C. S. Lewis tells us that Susan, who in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe witnessed the death and resurrection of the godlike lion Aslan, looked back on her times in Narnia as "funny games we used to play as children." She ultimately came to the conclusion that the heavenly land of her childhood experience was nothing more than a childish fantasy because she was "a jolly sight too keen on being grownup."
Dim vision ages us rapidly, and we lose the childlikeness that once made us feel like real princes and princesses in a kingdom. We can be young and yet feel old. Heavy laden. Burdened. In a pit where vision is lost and dreams are foolishness.
Through the pages to come, some of you will recognize your pits. For most of you, awareness won't come because you suddenly see how bad you are, but rather because you will wake up to how bored you are. Getting out begins with waking up. And (this may be the hardest part) with being willing to feel again.
In Psalm 40:2, David exclaimed,
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
There you have it. We don't have to be in a stronghold of sin to be in a pit. We just have to feel stuck, feel we can't stand up to our enemy, and feel like we've lost our vision.
Ever been in a pit? Are you in one now? Is somebody you love in one? How in the world does a person get into these pits? More important, how does one get out?
These are the questions we will answer in the rest of this book.CHAPTER 2
When You're Thrown into a Pit
You can get thrown in. That's right, without doing one thing to deserve it and without wallowing your way into it. I'm not talking about a pit of sin here. This one's a pit of innocence. You can get thrown right into the miry deep before you know what hit you. Or worse yet, before you know who hit you. Those were the very circumstances surrounding the first pit mentioned in Scripture. Genesis 37:23–25 records the details:
When Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped off his robe, the robe of many colors that he had on. Then they took him and threw him into the pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. Then they sat down to eat a meal. (hcsb)
In a fit of jealous rage set up by their father's partiality, the older sons of Jacob threw their seventeen-year-old little brother, Joseph, into a cistern with the intention of leaving him for dead. Let that sink in a second. Perhaps you've read the story so many times the brothers' actions no longer seem like a big deal. After all, things turned out okay, right?
I sat across the table from a gifted woman of God not long ago who told me that when she was little, her father put her out of the car on a country road because she was crying. He then proceeded to drive off. He came back and got her a little later, his feathers puffed up like a rooster, hoping she'd learned a lesson. She learned a lesson all right: she learned she couldn't trust her father.
In spite of all I've seen and heard, when she told me this story, it was all I could do to keep my chin off the floor. I was utterly horrified. Since this woman has been greatly used of God, you might reason that things turned out okay for her too. But I assure you, the price of her redemption was sky high. Every day she must consciously make the choice to believe her godly husband is not going to drop her off somewhere and never come back. Never minimize the choice someone like her makes daily to dig her heels securely in the rock and not slip back in that familiar pit that continually beckons, "Come home! Come home!"
The New King James Version words Psalm 40:2 this way: "[God] also brought me up out of a horrible pit." Yep, that says it. Some pits are just plain horrible. And when we sit across from someone bearing witness to one of these, horror can be an appropriate first response. I hope never to reach the point where I cease to cry over some of the stories I hear. Every story you hear, every account you read, happens to real, live, flesh and blood that bruises, gushes, and scars. So many of the people surrounding us have suffered horrifically in a pit they did not dig for themselves. Often, they first need the simple validation of someone saying to them, "That is horrible. I am so sorry that I hardly know what to say." Then, when trust is earned and the time is right, we can testify to our hope.
The ways we can get thrown into a pit are as varied as the footprints planted in them:
Like my young friends, Cara, Christen, and Amanda, who watched a drunk teenager drive her car off the road, into the yard, and over their mother, you can be thrown into a pit by sudden tragedy.
Like one precious woman in Bible study, who was stabbed repeatedly by a boyfriend she tried to break up with, you can be thrown into the pit by a violent crime.
Like my family of origin, you can be thrown into a pit by a loved one suffering from mental illness.
Also, like my family, you can be thrown into a pit by an alcoholic leaving a deep path of destruction too wide to avoid. (I cast no condemnation on this loved one. There but for the grace of God should I have gone.)
Like my friend Sara, you can be thrown into a pit by your spouse's declaration that, after twenty years of marriage, he's in love with someone else, and he's leaving.
Like Sara's children, you can be thrown into a pit by a parent who suddenly abandons the home.
Like Eric, a brother in Christ, you can be thrown into a pit by a heartless woman who says you've bored her to tears and she's going to have some fun without you.
Like my friend Shawn, and staggering numbers of others, you can be thrown into the pit by a life-threatening disease. Even imminent death.
Like Jim and Connie, you can be thrown into a pit by the birth of a severely handicapped child who may never recognize your face but will probably outlive you.
Like Charles and Gayle, you can be thrown into a pit by a house fire that happened in one brief window of opportunity when you had no insurance.
Like numerous members of my church in Houston, you can be thrown into a pit by traumatic financial loss when a company like Enron comes tumbling down.
Or, like so many children standing in the same line with Melissa and me as we waited to see a loved one who was doing time in jail, you can be thrown into a pit by a crackhead parent who rarely sobers up enough to care. Make no mistake. A pit offers ready residence to the rich and poor alike. Pain couldn't care less about your social status.
Like me, you can be thrown into a pit by a close relative selfish and sick enough to molest you when you were a child.
Like my husband, Keith, you can be thrown into the pit by the sudden death of a sibling while you were playing together and, like him, end up wishing it had been you.
Also like my husband, you can be thrown into a pit when you lose yet another sibling and you're left to wonder why some families suffer so much more than others. Life is danged unfair.
Give this one a little extra reverence with me: Like Mary, Sue, Ginny, Heather, Buddy, Randy, and so many others with real names and real pain, you can be thrown into a pit by the death of a beloved, irreplaceable child.
Like you ... ?
These examples are no more fun for me to write than they are for you to read. But I don't know how we're ever going to get out of a pit we refuse to recognize or talk about. Mind you, we could experience blows like these without necessarily descending into the pit, but the chances of enduring such horrors without entering the darkness for at least a little while are about as good as Joseph gripping the edges of that cistern and resisting the shove of his brothers. The downward force of some circumstances can be almost too much to resist.
Many of us found ourselves in a pit long before we reached Joseph's age. To be completely candid with you, I don't even remember life before the pit. I demonstrated behavioral patterns of a victim of abuse long before I went to kindergarten. The earlier we enter the pit or the longer we stay, the more it feels like home. We start hanging our pictures on the wall, tidying up the place, and making ourselves comfortable. If we're cool enough, we may even move a Pottery Barn couch and Williams-Sonoma kitchenware right into the middle of it. But as soon as the rain comes, it all gets soiled. That's the trouble. Every pit has a dirt floor.
Of all three ways to get into a pit, getting thrown in — not by something but by someone — can be the most complicated to deal with emotionally and spiritually. I'll give you a few reasons why.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Delivered"
Copyright © 2007 Beth Moore.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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