Devotion in Motion: What to do when you feel stuck

4 Then I called upon the name of the LORD:

    “O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul!”  Psalm 116:4  (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

“Califone 1455K phonograph” by Carbon Arc is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

At our house, one of our favorite things is the record player. At any given moment, we’re almost certain to have music playing from a vinyl record. We’re not stereo snobs with thousands of dollars worth of equipment. We just have an old gray portable 1960s Califone that we purchased from an elementary school.

We buy records at thrift stores for a dollar apiece. Nevertheless, our kitchen, dining room, and den are always filled with great music. Life is simple and sweet.

Whenever teenagers visit our house, they’re always fascinated by the phonograph — and equally confused about how it works. “Exactly what do I do, Brother John?” they ask. “Do I just put this arm-thing directly onto the record? Can you flip the record over and play the other side?

It’s all just hilarious to me. I’d love to see these kids try to make a call on an old rotary-dial phone.

But my favorite moment happened one evening when one of our vinyl records “got stuck.” One of the visiting teenagers said, “Brother John, the record player is playing the same 6 notes over and over, and it all seems pretty useless.”

I thought, “Truer words have never been spoken.” Playing the same 6 notes over and over is useless. And it’s not a problem that only happens with old records. I’ve been known to “get stuck” in a certain frame of mind. Sometimes I spend countless hours dwelling on the same 6 negative thoughts. The psychologists call this “rumination.” It wastes a lot of time, and it doesn’t accomplish anything good. It always makes me feel worse.

How can we help ourselves when our psychological record gets stuck? We fix it the same way we handle a vinyl record that gets stuck. You lift the needle out of the rut. But be sure not to move the needle back into the past. Move it forward into the future. Set it down in a new groove, a better groove.

The Apostle Paul describes the process this way:

13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,

14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:13, 14  (NKJV)

Are you trapped in the same kinds of negative thoughts? Ask God to help you get unstuck, and listen for a more joyful song. Then… let the dancing begin.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 34 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He’s a retired Mississippi public schoolteacher with grown sons, and is now a stay-at-home-grandpa. He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in a brick house in town (where the preacher’s wife and friends took him to a Beatles tribute concert featuring Mickey Dolenz for his birthday this week.) You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.