Hollywood loves quicksand . . . that insidious, silent, lethal, undetectable (anyone want more adjectives?) substance that catches the hiker unaware and swallows him up, never to be seen or heard from again.
In reality, quicksand is not that dangerous. A person cannot be swallowed up whole since he can’t sink more than what his weight displaces; therefore, most likely he will not sink below waist level. However, the amount of pressure needed to free himself is about the same as raising a small car, and the more a person panics and struggles to extricate himself, the more area is liquified, and the more the person sinks. Now the quicksand is both debilitating and paralyzing. Even having someone try to pull him out is not possible as the force needed might tear the individual in two! The way for a person to get out of quicksand is to 1) not panic, 2) slowly move his feet to increase the viscosity, and 3) begin to move onto his back and into a floating position. Eventually, his body will be floating on top and now someone can “drag” him to safety.
Most of us have never encountered quicksand, at least not the material kind. But I would wager we all have emotional or mental areas of quicksand: these seemingly benign blind spots in our lives that we fall into on occasion, and our own flailing about only makes matters worse. For some of us this is jealousy, for others it is focusing on the past, and for others worry, just to name a few. Though I do venture into each of these patches on occasion, my pit of choice is “speculation” . . . that tendency to take a “known” and then create a myriad of potential unproven cancerous tendrils of thought. Sometimes it will be a potential response to an email I wrote or a conversation I had or a decision I made. Other times it will be an interpretation over a statement or a look or a decision. Often I will latch onto one of these unfounded scenarios and allow myself to run the scene over and over in my head until, like the physical quicksand, I dig myself deeper and deeper until finally, I am completely immobilized by my own thoughts.
The problem is none of these created scenarios are TRUE. They are all fabricated speculations on my part and 99.9% of the time I get it wrong, and consequently wasted precious time and emotional energy on something NOT true. Perhaps this is why Paul, in Philippians 4:8 begins his list of things to meditate on with “Whatever things are true . . .” (emphasis mine), because he knew how much damage can be caused in our lives by meditating on things that are mere speculation. “Noble . . . just . . . pure . . . lovely . . . good report . . . virtue . . . praiseworthy” . . . these attributes all follow truth and they have to, for if we flounder in the quicksand of speculating on things not proven, we can never free ourselves to accurately perceive what is pure, lovely, good, virtuous, or praiseworthy.
So if you, like me, find yourself falling into your own personal quicksand, don’t panic, but instead stop the wild thrashing about, and slowly turn yourself heavenward until you have put yourself in a position of vulnerable surrender where God can pull you safely to shore.