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Christine Caine: How to Get Spiritually Unstuck

Christine Caine: How to Get Spiritually Unstuck

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During the pandemic, we all tried new hobbies with our newfound free time. We made bread, whipped our own coffee, took up painting or photography or a different workout routine.

Or, if you’re Christine Caine, you got your motorcycle license. 

“I thought to myself, ‘I’m 55, I’ve got to do something new,’” Caine said, as if it’s the most obvious hobby for a full-time global ministry leader to pick up.

But in both her life and missions work, Caine always goes for the unexpected. She’s not interested in following the same path everyone else is taking. She’s on the lookout for the undiscovered path, the next step that lead to a new adventure.

It’s why, unlike most of the world, she has no desire for the world to “go back to normal.”

Moving Forward

“We are in a time that we all need reminding it’s time to move forward or we’re going to get stuck,” Caine said. “The one phrase I have heard more than any other phrase in the last three years is, ‘I just wish things would go back to normal.’ But I’m standing here thinking that we can’t do that. The world fundamentally has shifted in the way that we knew it. And not only that, but the Lord’s always doing a new thing.”

Caine has spent the last three years repeatedly hearing the message that God was doing a new thing in this season, which led her to write her latest book, Don’t Look Back.

She was reading Luke 17 one day when the message struck her. In verse 32, Jesus instructs the disciples to remember Lot’s wife. “It was like I had been hit in the head by a two by four,” Caine said. “I found out there are 170 women referenced in Scripture, either by name or in passing, but Jesus only told us to remember one woman: Lot’s wife. And he told us to remember her in the context of the world ending as we know it.”

Caine said she knew God was trying to show her a deeper message, which led her to Genesis 19: The world as Lot and his family knew it was burning down.

The Lord had rescued them out of Sodom and Gomorrah, and as it was all burning down, the angel of the Lord said, “Don’t look back.” But Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt.

Through her studies, Caine quickly discovered why Jesus wanted people to remember the story of Lot’s wife.

“In the original language, the ‘looking back’ is like a longing, a wanting to go back,” she explained. “I was thinking how everyone has been talking about how they just want to go back to normal. They wish they could go back to the good old days, whatever that might mean. I thought, ‘Wow, there’s so much longing on the earth right now, even among believers, to go back to something, some sort of fantasy land that we think is awesome.’

“But Lot’s wife got stuck as a pillar of salt,” she continued. “She basically became calcified in a place she was only meant to be passing through. She was more attached to what she was leaving than what God had for her in the future.”

Caine realized that if we’re not vigilant, many of us can become like Lot’s wife — calcified in a moment for the rest of our lives. In fact, many of us have already become calcified, stuck in the past three years waiting for life to start again.

“We’ve been in a pandemic in sweatpants for three years, and it’s time to get your jeans back on and start stretching a bit and moving forward,” Caine said. “We are in a dangerous moment because there comes a threshold that if you don’t start at some point, you really do get stuck. And I truly believe that the time to act is now.”

“I think we are in a time on the Earth that we all need reminding that it’s time to move forward or we’re going to get stuck.”

Of course, sometimes the hardest part with moving forward is knowing how to take the first step. The world has changed tremendously over the last several years, and stepping into a new world is never easy, especially when the world seems like it’s heading down a chaotic path. But Caine wants people to know that we have to start somewhere.

“If you don’t start moving forward, you end up just in a holding pattern rehearsing and regurgitating the same old thing,” she said. “Otherwise, 20 years happen and you’re still dealing with the same problems. But you get to decide whether you’re going to move forward with that or whether you’re going to still be stuck.”

Caine chose to move forward by developing skills to transform her life, ministry and relationships: resiliency, tenacity and flexibility. It’s what led her to learn how to ride a motorcycle.

Caine pulled up to  a Southern Californian DMV fully prepared to leave with a small piece of paper that would let her drive a bike on the open road. Additionally, she left with a valuable lesson about looking forward to the future.

“The instructor would remind us, ‘Remember, where you look you go,’” Caine said. “And it was like something went off in my head. It’s so simple, but so true. If you keep looking back, you’re going to go backwards. And if you start looking forward, you can move forward.”

That simple bit of advice has become a mantra for Caine. She’s looking forward to what God has lying ahead for her, not focusing on what’s in the rearview mirror.

It is tempting to look back, she admits, but Caine is trying her hardest to keep her gaze on where she knows God wants her. Some days are easier than others, as some paths are easier to say yes to than others. She knows the future will have hardships and difficulties and unforeseen obstacles along the way. But she knows that ultimately, the difficult paths are always worth it.

“I’ve learned over the years that the pain of regret is greater than the pain of obedience,” she said. “I have to trust what I know about the character of God more than what I do not know about the future. That’s the only way I’m able to move forward.”

A Time for Reflection

As much as we may want change to happen overnight, we can’t wake up one day and no longer have a fear of the future. The problems we might be facing today don’t go away because we’ve got our sights set on what’s next. There is still a current reality that we have to learn to live in.

“If you keep looking back, you’re going to go backwards. And if you start looking forward, you can move forward.”

But, Caine warns, the key is learning how to navigate our challenges while still moving forward, not getting stuck in place trying to solve a solution.

“I don’t want people to think that they can dismiss or even bypass their pain and suffering by looking to the future,” Caine clarified. “But there is a difference between looking back on our circumstances to heal from them, like in a therapy session, and looking back to stay there, for good or bad reasons. There is a proper time to process it, and a proper time to move on from it.”

Caine points to Scripture for examples of Biblical heroes like Moses, Joshua and Saul aptly mourning their circumstances and then moving forward.

And that’s where Caine feels our world is now. We’ve spent three years lamenting a world that has passed away.

“Now, it’s time for us to start looking forward instead of backwards,” she said. “It’s almost like, OK, we need some permission now to say it’s OK to start looking forward towards the promise of God, the purpose of God. He’s still got a future. Our history doesn’t have to define our destiny. You can acknowledge what has happened, but not be defined by it.”

But what exactly does the first step toward the future look like? Caine has some advice for those brave enough to start a new journey. “The first step is always in your mind,” she said. “You have to decide for yourself because nothing changes until you change your mind.”

Think of your thoughts as if they’re a train, Caine explains. They take us from one place to a new destination, but you don’t get there if you don’t get on the train. By making the conscious decision to step on a thought train, you’re metaphorically stepping off the stationary platform.

“And then, be willing to go through the process,” she said. “You have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get unstuck, whatever hard work is required.”

For some people, getting unstuck may be beginning therapy. Or it might be blocking, muting or unfollowing certain people. It could be changing friend groups, careers, or leaving a draining relationship.

“Truthfully, there isn’t always one tangible next thing you can do,” Caine said. “But whether it’s mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, relational or financial, whichever area you feel stuck in, that’s the area that you have to begin to do the next right thing.”

Everyone’s first steps look different, as do their second, third and fourth steps. Sometimes they’re big, like moving across the country, and sometimes it can be as small as setting an early morning alarm. Whatever the step, the important thing is to keep moving.

“Nothing changes until you change your mind.”

“I think most of us have a hope of where we want to end up,” Caine said. “But we don’t know how to get there. We end up minimizing the value of the right next step because we think it’s too small and it won’t make a difference. And the truth is, the difference probably won’t show up right away. But it will a year from now.

“Unfortunately, because of the world that we live in, no one’s got any patience,” she said. “Everyone wants instant gratification. We all want change, but it’s not going to happen. This is not a self-help thing that with three steps and two weeks will magically unstick you. I wish I could say there’s no pain. But there is pain, so choose your pain wisely.”

Caine chose to step into the pain of obedience three years ago. And while it led her to newfound experiences — more travels, more friendships, and of course, a motorcycle license to accompany her cream-colored Vespa — it also led her to a deeper intimacy with Jesus. And of all the things she’s embraced over the years, she continually admits that’s her favorite step she’s ever taken. 

“I’ve been given the opportunity — well, we all have — to become more intimate with Jesus,” she said. “And it didn’t take me long to realize that’s about the only guarantee we have in this life. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will never leave us nor forsake us. And I think coming out of the last few years, that’s about all I do know. He’s good; He won’t leave me; He is going to enable me to get through whatever it is, and in Him, all the promises of God are yes and amen.

“So despite what the past looks like, I can have hope, I can have faith, I can still have a glint in my eye, a spring in my step and look to the future with joy and peace and confidence,” she concluded. “Not because I know anything about the future, but because I know the One who holds the future in His hands.”

© 2023 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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