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In a Tight Spot?


More than a decade ago, the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? was released. Anchoring the excellent cast is George Clooney playing the part of Everett whose greatest concern in life is maintaining a steady supply of Dapper Dan hair pomade. Everett is one of three escaped convicts whose second greatest concern in life is getting home to his sweetheart before she marries another man. The trio on the run encounter numerous perils on their journeys during which Everett would repeatedly mumble the same four words without fail: “In a tight spot!”

We might say “I’ve painted myself into a corner” or “My back’s against the wall” but the sentiment is the same. Feeling trapped. Caught. Stuck. And seemingly without options. It can drain the hope right out of the most optimistic person on the planet. It can discourage the most upbeat people working together in a community. And it can all but suffocate the most spirited among us. Can there be any wiggle room in a tight spot?

We’ve probably all heard the words. Maybe it hasn’t been since childhood when a parent, teacher, or babysitter sputtered them. I mean it. Whatever it is we’ve been instructed do and have been dallying around avoiding doing must be done right then and there – or else. That or else usually meant punishment of some sort. We came to understand that, in the face of such ultimatums, there were no options. We were in a corner with our backs against the wall and there simply was nary an inch of wiggle room. A tight spot indeed.

Authority, or perceived authority, can have a way of making us feel at times like a squashed bug, devoid of the get-up-and-go agency we need to sprint creatively if not mightily through a day. Discouraged, hopeless, and out of breath is no way to live life to its fullest. That’s not the divine design. Yet perhaps the tightest spot of all is believing that a Higher Power, God, the Creator and Author of Life, is the one who’s doing the squeezing. Not a one of us humans, even those with extraordinary MacGyver-esque resourcefulness, optimism, and spunk, can go toe to toe with the Divine and hope to wiggle away unscathed. But what sort of deity would treat we who are beloved like bugs to be squashed? Not one deserving of our devotion. Surely, there are options. Surely, squeezing someone into a tight spot isn’t the Divine’s idea of sport. Just ask Jesus.

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