Digging Ditches

Inspiration to Reach Your Mountaintop

By: Suzannah Driver

What could go wrong?

If you can do any other job other than church planting and pastoring, do that!” Joe and I looked at each other and joined the chuckles coming from other future church planters sitting in the room. We had a combined twenty-two years of ministry under our belts and knew God had called us to plant a life-giving church in Pensacola, Florida. So, what could go wrong?! The short answer is: Everything

Nearly three years into leading and pastoring Echo Life, I think back on the cautionary statement spoken to the eager church planters. Would we have ever chosen a different route? No. We know through and through this is exactly where we are supposed to be and what we are called to be doing. But this has single-handedly been the most challenging and difficult three years we have experienced in ministry. 

Reaching the Summit

Mount Fuji, though it is a mere 12,388 feet tall, is no joke. I have had the opportunity to summit this mountain twice. On both occasions, we began the ascent at midnight, guided only by our headlamps and a small, braided cord leading to the top. The climb is virtually straight up. The terrain is made up of unstable pumice stones. The air is thin, making it difficult to breathe. Most of my climb was alone, in the dark, feeling light-headed, stumbling my way up, and rolling my ankles at least 30 times. This is also church planting. 

I would love to say that everything has been a beautiful mountaintop experience, but that would be so far from the truth. It has been a lonely uphill climb full of bumps and bruises. For several months now, I have felt like I have been struggling up a mountain and have only seen the light of day for a moment. This is the kind of discouragement that leaves you sitting on your laundry room floor weeping and asking God if this really was the right move (by the way, the enemy is a jerk and loves to kick you while you’re down. Don’t pay any attention to the thoughts you have in these dark moments. Find a friend who can share a light with you and show you that you are still moving in the right direction). 

Kings Digging Ditches

As I have been fighting my way through the deep, dark, discouragement, my time with Jesus has landed me in 2 Kings 3. Three kings have come together to fight against Moab and they find themselves wandering in the desert and completely out of water. They call for a prophet and Elisha shows up on the scene and gives them a word. “Dig ditches all over the valley.”

I imagine these kings looked at each other in disbelief. Surely they knew about the exodus story (kind of a big deal). They knew God had provided water from a rock, manna from heaven, so surely He could do it again! But no, God instructs the people to…digditches.

This is the desert. The sun beating down, the tools are primitive. The prophet continues, “You won’t hear the wind, you won’t see the rain, but this valley is going to fill up with water…This is easy for God to do; he will also hand over Moab to you.” (2 Kings 16-19 MSG) 

Can you imagine crying out to God for help and then Him telling you to do some back-breaking work in the desert. “Dig ditches.” How many? How deep? For how long? When is the rain showing up again? How are these going to be filled? The people had no answers but instead had an opportunity to operate in faith and obedience. 

Filling Up the Valley

Like many other believers and pastors, I am in a season of digging ditches. I am asking God for provisions, and I know He will provide, but the nagging question of when and how make faithful obedience even more difficult. Add to that the age of social media and I’m over here looking at other churches wondering why they got the provisions and I’m still having to dig with no end in sight.

This is where I have been the last several months. Many days of tears, frustration, anger, and feeling abandoned by God. Then I remember, “ You won’t hear the wind, you won’t see the rain, but this valley is going to fill up with water…this is EASY for God to do…” My responsibility is to be faithful. My responsibility is to obey. My responsibility is to dig in where I am placed and not check to see whose ditch is already finished. 

Maybe you’ve been digging for weeks, months, or years. Maybe you feel like your ditch is significantly deeper than the people around you. Maybe God is preparing you to be a well of great depth for future generations. Maybe He is preparing you for far more than you could ever imagine. Don’t give up! Don’t keep looking for the wind and rain, but know and believe that He is faithful. He sees you. He will answer you! Keep digging! You are not alone. 

Suzannah Driver

You can follow Suzannah on social media at @SuzannahDriver. You can find out more about the church she pastors along with her husband Joe in Pensacola, Florida, at echolifechurch.com.

Do What You Hate

You can learn to love what you hate. I believe doing what you don’t like is the key to having what you love. You may not believe me but read along for the next couple of minute to see if this is true. At the very least, you can let me know how I am wrong in the comments.

Oatmeal Is Gross

I hate oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice, skim milk, and black coffee. Can’t stand them! BUT, and this is a big BUT, I have learned that I need to do what I hate if I want to enjoy what I love.

Years ago, I read starting your day with oatmeal is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body. After that, I broke my habit of pop tarts, or waffles and syrup, or sugary cereal, and began eating oatmeal. At first, I disliked it. I was motivated by avoiding health problems. Over time though, I started to enjoy it.

Even though I don’t like these other food items I mentioned, I started eating them as well. Over time I trained my taste buds and mind to look forward to healthy satisfying food instead of the immediate gratification and delayed regret that comes from junk.

Have What You Love

You know what else I don’t like? I don’t like waking up early to work out and missing out on TV, sports, and movies to work on a budget. With these things, just like the healthy food I mentioned, momentum is created when I begin to do what I hate. Doing the right thing is intrinsically satisfying PLUS you get the fantastic results.

“If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting.”

Steven Covey

If you are going to have what you love in any area, then you are most likely going to have to do what you hate at some point to get there. Making changes is hard. The best kind of results are not immediate. Eventually, you will love the results, and you won’t want to go back. In the meantime, you may need to toughen up, do what you hate. I believe it is the price of admission for achieving your most meaningful goals.

Do what you hate and let me know what you think!

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Reignite Your Dream

A Biblical Approach to Unfulfilled Dreams

Have you ever tasted the bitterness of an unfulfilled dream? What should we do when we start with a dream but find ourselves left with disappointment? There is a biblical approach to unfulfilled dreams that will reignite things that we thought were long extinguished.

God gave Joseph big dreams. They fit him like a child walking around in her parent’s shoes. Fulfilling these dreams seemed too big for him and meant for someone else. Sharing his dream did not bring about affirmation or praise. Instead, he suffered rejection and persecution.

This is his brothers’ response to hearing Joseph’s dreams:

““Here comes the dreamer!” they said. “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”” Genesis‬ ‭37:19-20‬ ‭

The thing they thought would stop the dream is the very thing that brought it to pass. No person can stop what God is doing. Our job is not to bring God’s dream about in our timing. It is to guard our heart as He brings it about in His timing.

This doesn’t mean what Joseph experienced next wasn’t painful. It was. This doesn’t mean that guarding his heart brought immediate reward. It didn’t. In fact when Joseph was offered a quick fix to his heartbreak doing the right thing did not make things better. It made them worse.

“Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained.” Genesis 39:19-20 

Instead of giving in to despair after another betrayal Joseph does something that changes everything. When his dreams weren’t coming true he focused on the dreams of others. This turned out to be the key that would unlock his dreams.

“While they were in prison, Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker each had a dream one night, and each dream had its own meaning. When Joseph saw them the next morning, he noticed that they both looked upset. “Why do you look so worried today?” he asked them.” Genesis 40:5-7

Joseph did not overlook these two people or allow his own hurt to excuse himself from getting involved. He didn’t blame others for his pain but instead did his best to bring healing to the pain of others. If we want to reignite our own dreams then we should become a spark for someone else’s.

Without helping the cup-bearer with his dream Joseph never gets the chance to help Pharaoh with his. Without being sold as a slave Joseph never gets brought to Egypt to liberate not only his family but the known world from hunger. Without guarding his heart Joseph misses the opportunity to be lifted up as a result of bending down to help someone else.

3 Keys to reigniting our dreams

Remember that no person can stop your dream. The very thing you think may stop your dream may be the thing that accelerates it into motion.

Guard your heart above all else. Don’t allow feeling sorry for yourself excuse taking the easy way out.

Focusing on other people’s dreams reignites and refines the dreams in our own heart.

Joseph was elevated because he found a way to focus on others when he could have focused on himself. A God-given dream is never about you getting promoted but about you being the best position to do the most for others and bring glory to Him in the process.