“We all have a personal pool of quicksand inside us where we begin to sink and need friends and family to find us and remind us of all the good that has been and will be.” ~ Regina Brett, journalist
We know how the story goes…
Our hero is wandering through the jungle with some companions, and one of them treads upon quicksand. The companion quickly sinks—making every effort to escape a sandy grave. At the absolute last moment—as the entrapped companion is nearing submersion—our hero finds a vine or branch for them to grab hold; pulling them out and saving them from a certain demise.
The reality, however, is that quicksand is rarely, if ever, as dangerous as presented in the movies…
Similarly, the challenges we face throughout our lives are not as dangerous as many of us perceive them to be…
Quicksand is basically a liquefied soil consisting of granular material (e.g. sand, silt), clay, and water. While it appears solid, if an individual attempts to walk on it, the water and sand within the quicksand separates; causing the individual to sink. It’s unlikely, however, that someone who becomes entrapped within quicksand would become fully submerged. Unless the quicksand is under water, the higher density of the fluid would cause them to sink at a level equal to the displaced quicksand—the individual floating at their body’s buoyancy. Struggling within quicksand may cause an individual to sink deeper, but not substantially. Sinking from struggle may increase our sense of panic, but the risk is not greater. The threat is not real.
I’ve begun to wonder if, just maybe, the quicksand portrayed in movies is analogous to how the devil tries to present to us the challenging circumstances we face in life…
One day, while walking through the jungle known as life, we take a step on what we perceive to be solid ground—but it’s not. Poor academic performance. Career mistakes. Failed relationships. Failing health. Financial ruin. There are many things that may suddenly cause the ground beneath our feet to sink.
In the movie, The Replacements, has-been quarterback Shane Falco (played by Keanu Reeves) speaks to the feeling of what it’s like to get trapped in the devil’s quicksand—the quicksand of movies:
“You’re playing and you think everything is going fine. 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.”
This is the devil’s goal—to create panic. To institute fear as our modus operandi. When we face unforeseen difficulties, he wants us to see ourselves trapped in a bottomless quicksand. Satan wants us to believe in the inevitability of our death—hopeless. The last thing the devil wants us to have is faith. Instead, he wants us to be fearful and doubt. Doubt ourselves. Doubt others. Doubt God. Doubt His Goodness.
Satan does not want us to see the reality of quicksand. While it can be difficult to escape periods entrapped in quicksand, it is not deadly. In our fight to escape, he wants us to perceive the sinking we experience to be perpetual. And, he wants us to continue to struggle—to flail and wail in panic, as though we are falling fathoms deep into the darkness…
To experience anxiety and anguish with our every breath…
To believe we are alone and helpless…
To believe that death is better than life…
Quicksand is a nuisance—not a true threat. As a Christian—just as in most non-movie scenarios—quicksand is typically no more than a few feet deep. We are never submerged over our heads, and we have a vineyard of others in which to reach out and hold onto—to pull us out:
9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NASB).
Relationship is a gift that many of us, if not all of us, fail to fully enjoy. While we desire to be loved, we often fail to allow others to help carry our burdens—to bestow their love upon us. A love that originates from our Lord. We doubt that our cord of community is enough. Instead, we succumb to the false fear that we’re living in the movies…and that the quicksand is deep.
While Satan wants us to believe in the movie quicksand, he does not want us to believe in a Rescuer. Rather, he wants us to believe that our Hero won’t come. Even if we’re already saved (by faith in Christ), the great deceiver wants us to try and struggle through the quicksand on our own. He takes joy in the fear-based suffering in which we sometimes reside. Such suffering brings no glory to God, because it keeps us from following the Holy Spirit in doing His good work from a place of love for God and others.
Consider Christ’s response to Peter, when his disciple refuses to accept that Jesus must be crucified and resurrected:
21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. 22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” 23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Matthew 16:21-23, NASB).
Peter is projecting his fear and dread on Christ. Undoubtedly, he is probably fearful for his own life too—hearing that his Rabbi is about to be crucified. Peter is too busy looking at his fear to see the story of love Christ is sharing with them—to sacrifice Himself for His people. A necessary sacrifice for the kingdom of heaven to once again reside on earth. A restoration only possible because of His love for us:
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
I tend to believe that is why the devil uses fear as a major driver in his deceptions. We cannot love as our Lord if we rest in fear—because it demonstrates doubt in our Lord’s victory. We see a punishment we deserve; failing to acknowledge that He has already taken that punishment for us through a perfect love we should all aspire to exhibit:
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).
And in those situations when we can’t help but see the quicksand in our lives as a bottomless pit—the type of quicksand we expect to find in the movies—remember that our Hero is with us. And our Hero never fails, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37, NASB).
He is present in our lives whether or not we see it. Rather than fight in fear, we must fight fear with love. We must have faith, trusting in Him and His Word. Put trust in those whom He places in our lives, as where two or more gather together in His name, He is there in their midst (Matthew 18:20). Such individuals are His hands and feet—His ambassadors—lovingly serving in deed and truth (1 John 3:18). It is essential that we Trust in His goodness, and that His path is true:
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB).
As believers in Christ, we can take assurance that any quicksand into which we fall will be shallow—and resting on a foundation of rock. For our Foundation is constant, sure, and steady:
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand” (Matthew 7:24-26, NASB).
11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11, NASB).
4 The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He (Deuteronomy 32:4, NASB).
2 He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken (Psalm 62:2, NASB).