Digging Ditches

I love the “ah-ha!” moment when something makes sense to you. This happens to me all.the.time. Especially when I read from the Bible. Passages or verses that I have read many times over, often become easy to quickly gloss over because they are either committed to memory {insert serious confession time here} or seem insignificant to me personally. Yep…I just said that. Really?!?! At what point in my life did I become so good at this whole living out the Bible part that any one part becomes insignificant to me? Lord, please forgive me.

For a long time, I was not aware that reading my Bible every day and being religious, were not the same thing as being spiritual, and certainly not the same as having a personal relationship with my Lord. My personal relationship with Jesus was about as personal as my relationship with the DMV attendant. Ouch!

A while back I heard a sermon on 2 Kings 3:9-20. This random passage from a seemingly insignificant-to-me part of the Bible changed my perception on life and autism, as well as my personal relationship with God.

In context, three kings (Judah, Israel, and Edom) met together to come up with a strategic plan to overthrow Moab. After wandering in the dessert and feeling like they were sent there only to die, they desperately called out the prophet Elisha, who took their request before God. In their dehydration, starvation, desperation, and weakness, God tells them that they must dig ditches. Sure, God could just send the rain and fill the valley with what they needed in that moment, and it would be easy for him to do so. But he required of them the same that he requires of the rest of us–action–because “faith without works is dead,” (James 2:26).

So what happened? The three kings did as they were told to do. They filled the valley with ditches. And God blessed them with an abundance of water and told them that he would also hand Moab over to them as well.

So where is the autism connection here? As I let this passage sink in, I really began pondering about verses 16-18, and connecting it to life with autism. “This is what the Lord says: Make this valley full of ditches. For this is what the Lord says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle, and your other animals will drink. This is any easy thing in the eyes of the Lord; he will also hand Moab over to you.” [NIV]

How many years are spent pouring into our children with autism to master a task that is so easily achieved by their peers? How many ditches have been dug for each and every single behavior or stimming problem? How many ditches have you dug in your sleepless nights as you prayed for just enough rest to afford you a few hours of consistent sleep in one night? How many ditches have you dug with every diaper you changed? Or with every meal you prepared for your family, knowing your child with autism will only eat french fries and chicken nuggets? How many ditches did you dig as you cleaned poop off of the walls and carpets again? How many ditches did you dig in your weariness? In your dehydration and desperation? How many ditches did you dig that you never saw filled?

In evaluating my own faith (or lack thereof) and weariness, strengths and weaknesses, hunger and thirst over the years, I have noticed a pattern. In the times when my faith seemed fuller and stronger, I realized that I had taken the time to trust in God and build the ditches that He required of me. Not the ditches that I thought I should dig; but the ditches that He wanted me to dig. In the times when my ditches were filled with water, my faith was deeper–not because I dug a deeper ditch, but because my faith in God was deeper than my ditch. In the times when my ditches remained empty or were slow to fill, my ditches were deeper than my faith in God. My ditches were empty because I was seeking the wrong fulfillment. I was seeking rest for my weary body, when I should have been seeking rest for my soul. I was seeking to fill my hunger with vain things, when I should have been hungering for the Bread of Life. I was seeking to satisfy my thirst when I should have been thirsting for Living Water. I wasn’t digging ditches to glorify God, I was wasting my time digging ditches to satisfy the idols in my life. Another ouch!

After a long season of dehydration, starvation, desolation, weariness, and emptiness, I am getting my shovel ready, because I have some ditches to dig. Not the shallow ditches filled with idols and doubts, but ditches that glorify God, because my faith in God is deeper than any ditch I can dig for myself.

“And the land was filled with water,” (2 Kings 3:20).

[This is a partial repost from my old blog on the same subject. Believe it or not, this is a shortened version! My original thoughts can be found here.]

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