[The LORD your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, says:] "For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert!" (Isaiah 43:19 NLT)

Hear the story

"If Ed, or I, got sick, we'd be in big trouble." Maura began. "I'm a waitress at a steak house, plus I do catering jobs when I can. My husband owns a small auto body shop, and we have two sons, eight and ten. For most of our married life it's all been about working hard and paying bills. It's the same old thing every week."

Like millions of people Maura and Ed have it just good enough that they pray daily that nothing changes. Their life is like a dance routine. Everyone has to know the steps.

Then one morning it happened. Maura didn't want to get out of bed. She wasn't tired, mind you, her "want to" just stopped working. She felt trapped in a giant rut. "I wanted to scream," Maura said. "I felt like this was it, nothing was ever, ever going to change, because nothing can change."

She began having fantasies about walking away from the whole thing. She'd hear about towns in the news, an explosion in Cheyenne, or a teacher's strike in Baton Rouge, and she'd wonder what it's like to live there. But her secret boredom was about to break into the open.

One day, Maura was having lunch with a group of ladies and out of nowhere Liz blurted out, "You know sometimes I could just scream. I'm soooo bored."

The light was turned on and secrets revealed. All of them were bored ... literally to tears.

So they started talking about what they were going to do about it. They filled the lunchtime with crazy dreams of things they could do to get out of boredom. It was exciting, but no one really did anything.

Then weeks later, Maura took some little steps. She joined a gym in the next town, and signed up for classes. She cut her hair short and planned a girl trip to New York. They saw a show, shopped on Fifth Avenue (window shopping). And, they all scared their husbands a little.

"I think God was telling me something in all those little things," Maura said. "He doesn't want us to get bored with life. He made us for joy. I just needed to feel a little more of that joy. So God opened my eyes."

Maura got the ladies to form an "Out-of-the-Rut" lunch group. Once a month they meet and do something new (for others). They do "off-the-wall secret projects" for people they hear about. Don't tell anybody. Oh, and they have fun, lots of it.

Find the story

Get together with a group of friends and talk about ruts. Call it a "getting out of the rut" evening. Listen to the stories of routine and the hints of boredom.

Discover the "out-of-the-rut" strategies that have worked for others. Begin a list of these ideas and keep adding to them.

Be the story

Use Your Imagination. Ask "What If?" Be a little more wacky. Break the rules — try a different approach. Combine Ideas. Think Like a Kid. Pause and pray.

You can't get out of the rut doing the same things over and over expecting the results to change. To get out of the rut you have to go 90 degrees one way or the other. Be different. Try it ... look for God's hand and take it.

Quote of the week

Some people like it in the rut.
Some people like it in the rut. They always know what to expect. In "The Making of a Mediator," by Michael Lang and Alison Taylor, the authors encourage the readers to change their thinking of the rut ... they ask that we think of it as a groove.

The best footballer, the best ballerina and the best musician can have marvelous days and off days. They have performances or matches when they are constantly brilliant and others where they can't seem to get their feet untangled. So I don't think about the goal of achieving perfection, but as a commitment to lifelong learning; of always being open to new experiences, new ideas, and new tests for each of us.... There is always something more to learn.

So, if we like the ruts, does that mean we are closed to new things?

Share your thoughts with Ron

Ron's Faith Challenge

Several years ago, Roger von Oech wrote his famous "A Whack on the Side of the Head" book. Through the years, he has helped thousands to discover creativity. He earned his doctorate from Stanford University in a self-conceived interdisciplinary program in the History of Ideas.

Although this book is not written with the goal of growing faith or experiencing God, it is a valuable read. The chapter on cultivating imagination is especially helpful.

He suggests that each of us should set aside time to ask ourselves "what if" questions. In order to move beyond everyday thinking, we are also encouraged to develop the explorer's attitude: Wherever you go, there are ideas waiting to be discovered and cultivated.

That's life with God ... I think!

Von Oech also loves using metaphors and proverbs in his book. One of my favorites, used in the chapter titled, "Don't Be Foolish" is: The nail that sticks up will be hammered down. How many times have you felt like that? Many times, the nature of one's thought process is to not be known as the "odd ball." Too many times we react in a conformist fashion, limiting the possibility of an "unthinkable" idea.

Get two copies, one to read and mark up, and one to give to a friend to mark up.

[A Whack up the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech, Time Warner 1998.]