I recently had to dig a ditch around my house. And because I was using a pickaxe and a shovel, I was quickly reminded of how much work goes with this task.
As I worked away there were several thoughts that came to mind, which by the way, most of them were probably not good – It was something along the lines of who in the world invented shovels!
Now the work itself doesn’t really bother me. I have always liked construction type work because you can see the progress being made and just the fact that I like making things.
What was killing me was the slow pace and frustration with the tools I was using.
But in the middle of all this inner dialogue, God also spoke to me and reminded me of some lessons He’s been teaching me for years.
Lessons From Digging A Ditch
Patience is learned
Not sure why this is, but it seems that a lot of people, including myself, have bought into this idea that almost everything in life should come naturally. Sure give it a couple of tries, but after that, you should have achieved at least proficiency.
But patience can only be learned. You have to learn to be patient as you wait in traffic, for the food to finish baking in the oven, or for that new movie to come out. It’s in those experiences that your mind builds patterns of thought about waiting.
It doesn’t come naturally as much as we would like it to be and it might feel a little counterintuitive, but to get patience you have to be patient.
You have to go to the school of waiting. If you bale out now, you are setting a pattern for the next time you have to wait. And that pattern becomes more ingrained the more you do it.
Stick around and learn to be patient.
Follow Paul’s advice, Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. (Romans 12:12)
Being patient can be hard because you might feel like you are doing nothing and just wasting time.
But you don’t have to.
Use that time to seek God and Pray. Remind yourself that there’s hope in Jesus Christ. You’ll be surprised that you can actually find joy in your waiting.
Character is built in the trenches
I knew I was making progress, but it just wasn’t fast enough. I kept thinking how much faster even a small backhoe could get the job done.
Sure it would probably be easy just go rent a backhoe and dig out a 3-foot ditch. But that would cause me to miss out on the opportunity build up muscle and endurance.
But that’s the problem. By taking the easy way out I miss out in the growth that comes through waiting.
Instant gratification keeps you from growth over the long haul.
My dad’s voice still echoes in my minds every time I say something about patience, “patience comes through trials.”
Patience has the ability to produce something great in us if we will allow it. Once it starts, it will have a domino effect that will end with growth.
Paul, a man who had definitely had to put patience into practice shares the results.
Romans 5 4 And patience produces character, and character produces hope. 5 And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us.
This thing you hate and want to pass might be teaching you a lesson you need to learn.
You may have even prayed for God to do something in you. Well, He might be trying to do just that.
It’s just coming in a different package than you imagined. You probably expected a dove to come from to sky and give you supernatural strength or patience. But that’s probably not going to happen. It’s probably going to come through a ditch and a shovel or something comparable.
Isn’t that how God often works? A king born in a manger. A talking donkey. A cross and a tomb. A small shepherd boy.
What and who God uses
But that is good news for us. Because it speaks to God ability to use whatever and whomever.
That ditch and shovel and satanic as they may seem, God can use them to build you up for His purposes.
As impatient, wishy-washy, temperamental, fearful, and imperfect as you are, God can use you.
What is God using right now to teach you something?
Are you overlooking your shovel and ditch and missing God’s blessing for you?
What have you been praying for God to do that He is trying to give you through an unexpected means?