Digging Trenches.

01.04.13tw

II Kings 3: Three kings and their armies wander the desert, wondering why their plans to defeat Moab haven’t come to fruition as they get wearier and thirstier. In desperation, they call upon God via the prophet Elisha, who gives them this message: “Make this valley full of ditches.”  Not quite the message their tired armies were hoping for…more work…and maybe pointless work. Doesn’t make sense.

Joshua marching the Israelites around Jericho and then shouting? Doesn’t make sense.

Abraham taking his only son Isaac up a mountain to sacrifice him? Doesn’t make sense.

But they marched around the city, walked up the mountain, and even dug the trenches. And God filled the trenches with water…so much water that they could all drink, and that the sun shining on the water in the desert looked like spilled blood to their enemies, and their enemies were tricked and were delivered into their hand.

We were reminded on Sunday morning that we all can be found in that story. Wandering in the desert, thirsty? Hearing God telling you to do something and not doing it because it sounds too weird? Or maybe doing it and in the middle of the digging. Maybe you’ve been digging for a long time with no water, wondering if it’s time to throw down the shovel.

I am so tired of digging. Working so hard for so long and wondering when the trench is going to fill up with water. When you’ve poured your heart and your hours and your miles of driving and your discipline and your emotional energy into a ditch that hasn’t filled up with water, at least not any water that you see yet. And your daughter is gone.

Taking communion during worship on Sunday, I talked to Jesus again. He suffered and died but did He know that He would rise again, conquer death, come out victorious in the end? Even though we don’t see any way that these ditches could be filled, that our hard years of work could pay off, should we keep digging and hoping? The chorus came at just that moment when I was talking with Jesus:

So let hope rise,
And darkness tremble
In Your holy light,
And every eye will see
Jesus, our God,
Great and mighty to be praised.

Let hope rise? I heard. Can I hope in the future? It’s so emotionally exhausting to hope in the future and have your hopes dashed time after time. I know I can hope in the distant future…Jesus victorious over sin on earth in the end…heaven awaiting us upon our leaving this world…those hopes are easy for me. It’s the hoping in better days for this earthly life that gets iffy. But I heard it again:

So let hope rise,
And darkness tremble
In Your holy light,
And every eye will see
Jesus, our God,
Great and mighty to be praised.

Okay. I can hope if God says I can hope. I can hope that this relationship with Midge’s father that seems to be blooming really quickly might continue to flourish. What a surprising development. In our two playdates since Midge left, we have connected in an unusually strong way. I am giving him tips and advice for parenting and for advocating for Midge in the system. He is telling me that he wants us to see her regularly and even mentions an overnight and wonders if we still have Disneyland passes (he just bought one so he could take Midge there.) Could we become the support system he needs in his new role as a single dad? Could we see our baby, his baby, and help him relieve the stress of parenting when he needs a break? My runaway mind envisions years and years of being a second family to our baby, and I have to stop myself. It seems too good to be true. Too much to hope for.  But maybe I will let hope rise… Then the next chorus comes and reminds me:

With everything,
With everything,
We will shout for your glory.

With everything,
With everything,
We will shout forth your praise.

Our hearts will cry
Be glorified,
Be lifted high,
Above all names.
For You are King,
With everything,
We will shout forth your praise.

So we keep digging the ditches in this dry and thirsty road that God has called us on. Doing the work and looking ahead even while all we want to do is look behind at our years with our daughter. We hope for a future with Midge and her father and us as some kind of weird rag-tag team. We remember that with everything, we will shout for God’s glory and praise, even if this future we hope for falls apart around us. It doesn’t make sense, but it could happen. And if it doesn’t happen, with everything, we will shout forth praise. And yes, this is a serious case of, “If we say it, maybe we’ll start to feel it someday.” Doesn’t God work that way a lot of the time?

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