I was standing at the base of a huge tree with sprawling branches. There was rickety make shift ladder that led up the trunk to the first giant branch about 15 feet off the ground. Another 15 feet higher and half way out on a smaller upper branch was a little wooden seat attached to a rope. It was a swing. I was told, “climb up there and go for a swing!” I looked at the men watching and said with shock, “You want me to do what?!
I was much younger then and on a day adventure in South Africa. Maybe this is the kind of fun that’s common in those parts, but for me, unless I’m strapped in, I don’t like heights. My stomach does loops and I can envision the terrible fall.
Yet I was urged onward. I assessed again the challenge and realized that to get to the swing on the upper branch, I’d have to balance walk (my hands not holding onto anything) for about 8-10 feet on a 5″ branch, 30 feet above the ground. As I stared upward, words were being said in my head that I shouldn’t write, and my stomach was confirming to my mind that this was crazy.
In life, God often asks us to do things that seem crazy. We seek Him. We plead desperately for direction, deliverance, provision, or any number of things. And on regular occurrences, God will ask us or impress upon us to do something as an act of obedience…first. This ‘act’ may seems silly, ludicrous, perhaps even irresponsible in light what our immediate circumstances are telling us.
This was the case in 2 Kings 3. Three nations (Israel, Judah, and Edom) were going to war against Moab. They mustered their forces and traveled 7 days and petered out in a hopelessly dry valley. The whole company was out of water, and were in dire straights. King Jehoshaphat suggested that they needed to seek Elisha the prophet for guidance and help from God. What they didn’t expect was what God was going to say.
“The Lord says, ‘Make this valley full of trenches.’ The Lord tells you, ‘You will not see wind nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you will drink, both you and your cattle and your beasts.’ “2 Kings 3:16
I feel like I can read their minds. “Seriously, God, you want us to do what?!” We’re out of water and physically beat. Now you want us to go down into a dry valley and dig ditches? Any marginal reserves we may have will be gone. The labor will create more thirst and need. There is no running water in this valley. We’re in the dry season. This is crazy.”
My goodness! I think we all relate to some degree–especially in this season of upheaval with CoVid 19, schools and businesses shutting down, and the world economy in turmoil. Yet we are left with two choices: 1) to obey, in faith, our God who promises to provide, or 2) to obey and submit to our fear, frustration and resentment toward God–and not dig.
The rest of the story is quite amazing. The Israelites thankfully obeyed and dug the trenches. The next day, in a miraculous fashion, out of a previously non-existent mountain stream, God provided a river of water that flooded the valley. The water, however, came and went quickly. It flowed only for a set period of time. And had it not been for their obedience to do what seemed pointless, pools of water would not have been gathered from which to drink. Wow!
I was cut to the heart over this. God, what seemingly crazy, sacrificial and timely work are you asking me to do during this trying and lean time? I realized that when we’re operating according to law of our mind, the objections to simple faith and obedience compound and grow strong. Lord, help us to listen to your voice over the doubt, the fear…the noise.
My friends, are you tired? Are you worn out? Are you…’thirsty’? I believe God desires to give the water we all so desperately need. Perhaps we can begin by asking the Lord what ditches He’s asking us to dig…and start digging.