Digging Ditches


Sometimes it’s the in between spaces of life that become the most important in the end. And sometimes what is most required is a perspective shift.

Last week I started reading Helen Roseveare’s book, Digging Ditches, and what an amazing, God-focused read it has been! There is probably no author or missionary I love more than Helen Roseveare, and it will be a most beautiful day in Heaven when I get to have tea time with Dr. Roseveare. Digging Ditches has been meeting me exactly where I am and God has been using this book to really go after my heart.

The title refers to a quiet verse in 2 Kings where the word of the Lord comes to Elisha the prophet and he tells the three kings to “make this valley full of ditches” (16). It was a bleak situation that these words were spoken into: the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom had gone out to fight against Moab only to come up empty on water. Certain that they, their men, and the horses were going to die, Jehoshaphat remembers God and asks for a prophet.

The book of Kings spares us the details of the ditch digging, but God shows up in a big way and not only provides wells of water that overflow the ditches but also fills the whole country with water (20). This miracle of water was just a small thing to our majestic King (he said so himself), who instead of just solving the dehydration problem, also defeated the Moabite army for them.

And, sometimes, it is in the in-between spaces of life that God does his greatest work. But often it requires us giving him space to speak and act. There are seasons in our lives that feel like all we are doing is digging ditches. These times feel insignificant at best and a waste at worst. We feel like we are out of our element, that God is silent, and nothing is as it should be.

I’ll admit that the past several months have provided a fair share of ditch digging. While being certain of God’s call on my life for this time of my life, I’ve been most uncertain with who I am and what I’m doing in this time. There have been days when I feel like I am pretending to be someone I’ll never be, that the work I’m doing will never feel like it’s what I was created for, and that I am far more of a hindrance than a help.

It is into this that God is still present. But as in the story in 2 Kings, he doesn’t always show up immediately. Nor does he always just step into the situation and do his thing without any effort from us. The people in 2 Kings do the ditch work, but he allows time and space to precede his appearance. This time of silence allows for reflection and remembering the promises and miracles of God. It is a time to wait patiently for the Lord. Wait for him to show up to the ditch digging and make the mundane majestic. It wasn’t instantaneous. Instead it was hours later. The next morning the sun came up and the enemy camp saw rivers of water the color of scarlet.

People, dig ditches for God’s work. And give him space to show up and do what only he can do: bring water without rain. Make something from seemingly pointless nothings. Don’t just survive in the ditches. Thrive in them—knowing that Jesus is next to you in the mud and mess. And not one thing is wasted that is of him, to him, and for him.

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