Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stuck In Quicksand

"Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." - Isaiah 41:10
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I’m one of those guys who thinks Keanu Reeves doesn’t get enough credit. Sure, he’s not going to win the Oscar for Best Actor anytime soon, but he’s been in plenty of solid films.

One of my favorite Keanu films was The Replacements, a sports comedy where he plays Shane Falco, a down-and-out quarterback who gets a second shot at the pros.

There's a scene when the head coach (played by the always amazing Gene Hackman) calls a team meeting to talk about the fears this rag-tag group of players is facing, and Falco replies "quicksand." But he's not talking about the kind of quicksand we see in action movies:

“You're playing and you think everything is going fine," he begins. "Then one thing goes wrong. And then another. And another. You try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. Until you can't move... you can't breathe... because you're in over your head. Like quicksand.”

I’ve been battling some discouragement lately, and I'm learning that discouragement is a lot like quicksand -- we step into it and our first instinct is to try harder, run faster, push more. But after all that trying and running and pushing, we still feel stuck.

And while you’re stuck and slowly sinking, discouragement will whisper that nothing you do is worth it and, by extension, that you aren't worth it.

Who are you to write? Who are you to try to make a difference? You should just give it up, discouragement will say.

So I don’t write as much. I don’t get up as early as I used to. I go home and do nothing. And then when you don’t bother, it’ll say you’re a waste of space.

How do we get out of the quicksand of discouragement? How do we overcome fear and the chatter we constantly hear that tries to keep us from doing anything? I think quicksand (real quicksand) can teach us a thing or two.


How often do we take on responsibilities that we were never meant to carry? Or put ridiculously unrealistic expectations on ourselves and then kick ourselves when we don’t meet them? And don’t get me started on worrying about things that we have absolutely zero control over.

I’ve been guilty of all of the above, and each one is a one-way, non-stop ticket straight to discouragement. And if you refuse to let go of the junk you're carrying when you get stuck, you’ll sink faster than you can say Titanic.

The first step to getting out of discouragement is just like the first step of getting out of quicksand: Drop it. All of it. The backpack filled with guilt has to go. The canteen filled to brim with worries about the opinions of others? Fling it to the side. Let God bear your burdens; He can handle them much better than we can and He wants to.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest," Jesus says.  (Matthew 11:28-30)

If you don’t lighten your load, you’ll keep sinking.


When we’re stuck in quicksand, eventually panic will start to rise as we continue to sink. It's our basic instinct to do so. But panic does nothing to help the situation; it will only cause us to sink faster.

Even though it goes against every fiber of our being, the best thing to do when we’re discouraged and stuck is to relax. When you’re stuck in real quicksand, remaining calm with steadying breathing will help us to stay afloat. And laying back will help relieve the pressure off our feet and slowly free our feet from the sand.

I love the idea of laying back in these situations because it keeps my eyes looking upward, towards God and the hope and peace he provides, instead of looking down and around at my circumstances. And then His peace, which surpasses all understanding, will keep our heads above the sinking sand.


When you’re in quicksand, quick movements will only sap your energy and keep you stuck.

The best way out of discouragement is to take it slow. Don’t force your way out, but instead work slowly towards solid ground. There’s no rush. Take one small stroke, and then another and another. Take breaks to conserve energy. And then, when you least expect it, you'll reach safety.

I’m writing all of this while I’m still in the midst of discouragement, still feeling stuck. It’s not a fun place to be. But it’s where I am. But as I begin to drop all the junk I've been carrying, letting Jesus fill me with His peace as I turn my eyes upward and slowly work my way out, the panic starts to recede. The anxiety fades. And hope returns.

I keep getting up, even if it’s later than I planned. I keep writing, even when I don’t feel like it. I’ll keep putting in the time and effort, even when it feels like no one cares and I’m barely moving the needle on the “Making-A-Difference” Scale.

I may be stuck, but I won’t be stuck forever. Neither will you.


  1. I just want you know that this blog has been a HUGE encouragement to me over the past few months. I pray that whenever discouragement comes your way, God would remind you of just how much of a blessing you are.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, it means a ton! Honored!

  2. Mr. Delgado, I needed to hear this. So good, thank you for sharing!