I know that life doesn’t work this way and yet still I find myself succumbing to it. I live my little life just waiting for God to step in and do something. To reveal His will in a way that I have never heard it before. To show me the next step to take. In a sense, just waiting for my life to happen like one day I’m just going to get a step-by-step itinerary outlining exactly what I am supposed to be doing and where my life will lead.
This is a season that has been marked by so much waiting. A lot of that has to do with my health and being in the thick of an autoimmune flare and dealing with a new diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome and trying to combat both at the same time. I’m in a slow progression of going on some medications, which has been hard for this modern hippie to do. Because my body tends to react to every little thing, my amazing integrative medical doctor is slowly putting me on each medication one at a time and increasing the dosage in incremental steps, hopefully to avoid my body freaking out about it all. I’ve been on the first medication about three weeks now, and will go on the second one in about another three weeks. But the hardest part about them (aside from me admitting to myself that medication is the next step) is that each one takes about six weeks to begin to kick in where I will start to notice any change. There is this large part of me that is truly just waiting to feel better and feeling like I am putting in so much effort to have minimal, if any, results. I just feel stuck.
And truthfully, that is how I feel about my spiritual life right now. This has been a season riddled with so many doubts and filled with so much quiet. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself for that in some ways, because this is a definite low point right now, and there are those days where I just don’t get out of bed because I don’t have the energy. And in and of itself, I don’t see doubt as a negative thing. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have doubt. Faith wouldn’t be faith if it wasn’t something we believed. I think seasons of doubt are difficult mercies because they do cause us to question and examine, and hopefully in the long run, draw us to God in ways that we never would have before and solidify our faith all the more.
Life just feels dry right now. And it has become far too easy for me to rationalize to myself in a season of hardship, especially as my body just feels like it is betraying me in so many ways, to just disengage and disconnect. That on those days when all I am up for is a transition from the bed to the couch to do nothing but binge watch shows on Netflix rather than using this time for more constructive ways–like more time in the Word and in prayer. Yes, there are those days when I am lightheaded and dizzy and even trying to read anything makes me get an enormous headache, but God also plants His Word into our hearts. He is near even when it feels to me that He is not. So much of my life just feels put on hold right now as I literally just sit around and wait for things to change. And in that wait, my faith has become stagnant.
Like I said, I’m sitting around waiting for things to change, but that is just not how it works.
I’ve been camped out in this story in 2 Kings 3. A quick story about the country of Moab rebelling against Israel, and the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom uniting together to attack Moab. As they make their way through the wilderness, there was no water for them or their armies or the animals that were with them–so very like when the Israelites were wandering the desert and so desperately thirsty (Numbers 20:2). When the three kings found out that the prophet Elisha was near, they went down to him to inquire of him what they were to do.
One thing that stood out to me was that the text says twice in this chapter that the LORD had called these three kings together to give them victory over Moab. Because He is faithful to His people, even when they are not–all these kings have ties to idol worship in one way or another. But I love that that fact is printed there. The LORD called them. He has His hand upon them. They could be certain of that. And I can, too. So can you. As His son or daughter, we are safely covered by His mighty hand, even when we fail over and over again. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 tells us that He who called us is faithful. He comes through for His children over and over again. It rarely, if ever, looks like what we would have imagined or expected, but we can be sure that first, we belong to Him, and second, because we belong to Him, He is at work in each of our lives in unique ways. The calling may not make sense, and it may come in a hundred different ways over our lifetime, but the very fact that we are here and He hasn’t taken us home yet is because we have a purpose. As we traverse the up and down seasons of our lives, He is working down in the deep and ultimately using our circumstances for our good and His glory.
Elisha went before the LORD, and it is my God’s response that has hit me hard these past couple weeks. The first part I have been clinging to as an enormous promise–“I will make this dry streambed full of pools,” (2 Kings 3:16). And oh, how He will! It is hard for me to imagine in this season of so much waiting when life itself just feels arid and barren. But there is the promise right there printed for all of us–He makes pools spring up out of the dry streambeds of our lives. Water to nourish our weary selves, but not just us alone–all those around us as well.
But wait, there is more. God goes onto say: ” You shall not see wind or rain, but that streambed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your livestock, and your animals,” (2 Kings 3:17). Yes, water for everyone. But the amazing part is how God just provides for them right there in the wilderness. He isn’t going to send down rain from the sky like He had done in the past in seasons of drought (see Elijah on that one). God was just going to cause these dry streambeds to fill with water out of His marvelous and incomparable might. And the very next morning, that’s exactly what He did (verse 20).
And yet, as I explored these verses deeper, I realized that there was a command God gave them in verse 16 that is missing in some translations (including the ESV, which I always quote and read). The NASB says: “Make this valley full of trenches.” The KJV: “Make this valley full of ditches.” The HCSB: “Dig ditch after ditch in this wadi.”
God promises to fill the dry streambeds, but only as they act out of faith and obedience and dig trenches to receive the water first. Oh, He was ready to miraculously give them more than their fill and lead them onto victory as they continued to Moab, but first they were instructed to dig the ditches to hold the waters of His promise. His blessing was ready and waiting to be poured out, but first they had to be ready to receive it.
And goodness, that is where I have felt so convicted deep in my heart. This is a season of enormous waiting and I’m just counting on a blessing to come out of it. Of the hardship to turn to beauty and purpose and a testimony even more rich than the one He has already given me. And I believe that it will. But it requires something from me as well. As I gulped down these words of Charles Spurgeon in my devotional the other day, I saw my failure. At the end of a short passage on these very verses that have been tugging on my heart strings, He says: “What am I doing for Jesus? What trenches am I digging? O Lord, make me ready to receive the blessing which Thou art so willing to bestow.”
Sucker punch to the gut.
What trenches am I digging? I haven’t been. That’s been the problem. I firmly believe that God constantly calls us to different seasons of waiting, but waiting is never meant to be a passive event, but an active one. We don’t stop living our lives as we wait on something–we still go about what we have always gone about. And we still need to seek God and His Word and draw near to Him even in the waiting.
We need to dig trenches.
Because one day He will miraculously fill those dry riverbeds in our lives with overflowing water, but we need to be obedient to Him even in the waiting. We need to be digging ditches to hold the blessings that He is just bursting to pour out on us in His perfect timing–never too late and not a second too early.
That’s what we do in the waiting. We dig trenches. Trenches to hold His blessing. Because when He decides to fill the streambeds with life-giving water and we drink deeply from the well of His amazing grace, it will pour out of us as well to everyone around us. The waiting will turn to testimony but only when we continue to embrace the purpose in the waiting.
Our God is a live-giver, but we also have to be trench-diggers in order to receive it all.
I love how after God promises to fill the dry streambeds simply by His power as God, verse 18 states: “This is a light thing in the sight of the LORD.” To fill the riverbeds without rain or diverting streams, but simply out of His might–this is just a tiny taste of God’s glory and power. I love how the TLB puts it: “But this is only the beginning…” Only the tiniest insight into what God can do. Only a small taste of the blessings He has in store for us. Only one speck on a journey riddled with victory. Only the beginning of what God does with our hearts and our stories.
And it starts with faith. The faith to dig trenches in the dry riverbeds to hold the abundant waters of His promise even when there isn’t a cloud in sight, but simply believing that He can and that one day He surely will.
So as much as I am able, I’m ready to pick up my shovel. It’s time to dig some trenches.