In large races when I’m surrounded by runners the entire 26.2 miles, the water stations get congested.  It’s not a lack of planning by race organizers – there are plenty of volunteers and the water tables are staggered and more than ample.  Here’s the problem – when everyone sees the water, they get all excited and don’t want to miss their opportunity to grab a cup and keep going.  I’m one of them.  A while back, someone taught me to keep running in the middle of the road until the last table.  By then, the crowds have thinned, and it’s easier to scoot over and grab a cup.  Common sense, but I needed someone to tell me.  Despite that strategy, the whole bottleneck episode still elevates my blood pressure and makes me wonder how many seconds it adds to my race time … which is a whole separate bag of issues …

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  Psalms 40:1-2

I wish I could say the only bottlenecks in my life -aside from race water stations- are the ones that occasionally channel beer into my mouth.  But truth be told, I get bogged down much more often by “bottlenecks” of muck in my life … the issues I can’t set free … the issues I let take such a strong hold that they slow me down spiritually.  These are the things you just can’t seem to move past … the things you have to face and sometimes punch in the face before you can move on and grow … things like a difficult job decision, waiting to find the right spouse, waiting for a child, struggling to improve your health, a stressed marriage, financial challenges, or a strained friendship.  I’m often guilty of stewing in my situation instead of appreciating what I’m supposed to be learning from it.  I should know I’ve been plopped in the muck on purpose, for specific reasons that will bring great blessings to my life.  But, it’s hard not to become grumpy and impatient and wonder when I’ll move beyond the bottleneck.  Being grumpy in a bottleneck is a problem, but an even greater problem is becoming comfortable in it.  If we stop dreaming, challenging ourselves to improve, and trying to discern God’s will, we really get bogged down, and the bottleneck becomes something even a plumber can’t get through.  Sitting in an uncomfortable situation has a purpose.  God put us there for a reason, and He will keep us there until we’re ready to move on.  If I flew through the water stops of a race, avoiding the slowdown and hassle, I’d miss the water.  Without the water, getting to the finish line in good shape, ready to conquer what’s next, is not only unlikely – it’s next to impossible.

God, please help me face the bumps in my journey, grow from them, and move on according to Your will.