“We can not dig ourselves out of a hole.” Defeatedly, the words scratched through my constricting throat like sandpaper over course wood. Tears welled in my eyes until they fell like loosed boulders tumbling down the cliffs of my cheeks.
There we sat, my husband and I, in the cavity of our circumstances – stuck in a situation of misery. The exhausting efforts of digging and chipping away day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, have frustratingly gained us a hallowed hole. A pit in which we sit.
Is it possible to harrowingly hold to the hope that patient perseverance will produce a much needed breakthrough? Or distraught and depressed, do we confess complete defeat walking away with hands empty, dirty, and scarred from the ineffective effort?
We pray, “Lord, is it possible for this pit to become a well?”
The crazy thing is, in their early stages pits and wells look very similar. It is only at the point of breakthrough that a well is distinguished from a pit.
A successful well is a pit of purpose that will connect to a supply of a specific resource such as oil, natural gas, or water.
Straight in Hope
It only takes a few moments of reviewing diagrams of wells to see that it is important the well remains straight. A straight hole deep into the ground to reach the resource found beneath.
To go straight is to move continuously in the same direction. No turns, curves, detours, divergences, or deviations. A crooked well will not provide a clear connection to the source. It will also increase the dangers of collapsing and caving in.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,
for he who promised is faithful.”
Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)
Steadily without turning aside, unremittingly, holding on to hope. The hope of reaching the source, the hope of moving in the right direction, the hope of good things ahead, and the hope that even though it feels like a pit now the breakthrough is coming.
“Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.”
Proverbs 4:25 (NIV)
Concentrate. Deliberately pay attention to what is directly before us. Focus.
Focus. It seems so simple when written down, but it takes such strength to focus our attention in our daily lives where interruptions, disruptions, disturbances, and commotions are so commonplace.
Do not go after everything we see. If I were to get up from my computer at this moment I would see a barrage of tasks that need to be completed right before my eyes – laundry, dishes, cleaning projects, piles to be sifted through – in essentially every direction I look.
These are the micro tasks of household management. While they are on the daily must do list, I doubt digging into them as the sole purpose of my days would result in a well springing up with abundant life.
It would be like taking a shovel and digging one hundred six inch holes all over the yard. It is a whole lot of unfocused digging, but it will never result in a well. Only a deep unsatisfying desperation, but with a very clean and organized house.
Distraction from the digging releases the hold we have on our hope and leaves the hole in its pit like state, unconnected to the resources a well will offer.
We can dream of a disruption and interruption free life, but we will never be able to achieve that. What do we do then? We adjust and adapt. We do the best that we can with what we have in each moment we are given.
We just keep digging. Even if it is only for little bits of time on each occasion. We need to come back to where we left off, pick up the shovel, fix our eyes, hold on to that hope, and scoop away.
Darkness in the Depths
Digging a well is hard, dirty work. Even with advanced tools, experienced training & talent, and the treasures needed to fund the work, well digging is still a process that is going to venture down into the darkness of the depths.
In 2011 we put our house up for sale. I loved our home. I cherished the memories it was filled with and the potential dreams it held. We had so many gatherings there with family and friends. It had a great layout for entertaining. The walls seem to echo with the sounds of joy and laughter. It was my dream home. I know now that held it too highly esteemed in my heart.
I wanted to be a woman who trusted God and who faithfully followed my husband’s lead. So we left not just our home, but our town, our church, our family, our friends, our connections, and our jobs. We ended up here. In a farm house just down the gravel road from where my husband grew up.
It has been a long, dirty, hard transition for me. One that most people just can not understand. For my husband Eric, it was coming home. For me, it was abandoning home.
Many times our transition here has felt like digging a deep, dark, pit. One that has brought me a great deal of fear and anguish that at any moment our pit will cave in, collapse, and completely crush me. Years later, I still feel like a wandering transient hoping to find a home again.
This season of life has not been without blessings, joy, and incredibly good gifts. Eric’s parents were so extravagantly generous in helping us get to where we are. We will never, never, be able to repay them for all they have done, all they have given, so sacrificially to us.
My children have grown so much in our years here, developing into some truly awe-inspiring individuals. This school district has so many absolutely incredible teachers, whose dedication is beyond measure. I have the awesome opportunity to substitute teach at our elementary school, which is a grand adventure, and has given me a chance to serve our new community.
The sunrises, sunsets, and views of the weather are absolutely spectacular. The view of the stars is intensely vivid and unending. There is scarcely anything that could be referred to as traffic near our house. The frogs in the pond make more continuous noise than the vehicles.
There is a depth of shared history here. Stories of families and individuals woven tightly together with a quality that covers generation after generation, weathering many seasons.
I watch as so many love, love, love it here. This is their corner of the world. They have found their place of peace and are refreshingly drinking from the wells that pour forth in their lives.
I wish I could be more like them.
I feel like I try, I really do, try to be deeply content and to love it here. I struggle some days to keep digging in this pit. Because there are times I want to run away and never look back. It takes some serious striving to pick up that shovel and continue scooping.
This is especially true on my exhausted and emotional days when there was expectation for breakthrough but all that is below the dirt is more dirt. It is challenging to keep digging when hope is deferred.
The process teaches invaluable lessons about letting go. Releasing the expectations, discharging the details of the dreams, unleashing the reigns of control. None of which I am very good at.
I long for my heart to pulse with a rich joy for this work of digging. I want to be able to dance in my pit for the Lord. I deeply desire that at some point there will be a breakthrough, that we will reach the point of connection to the source and our pit will become a well; a well that not only refreshes my family but that would bless a great many around us.
“Though they have been going through
much trouble and hard times,
they have mixed their wonderful joy
with their deep poverty, and the result
has been an overflow of giving to others.”
2 Corinthians 8:2 (TLB)
Even in the depths of the darkness the Lord can release an immeasurable overflow resulting in abundant joy and rich generosity.
Live it Out
Do you have an area in your life that feels like a pit right now? What are you trying to connect with that you are hoping will become a well?
Are you holding on to hope with your eyes fixed ahead? Are you facing distractions that are disturbing your progress? Has the depths of darkness brought fears and anxieties into your mind?
What lessons are your learning in the process? How are you indirectly being shaped or strengthened on the inside as you dig away?
If your pit as already been developed a well, has your well become a place for others to come and find refreshment at?
Remember a pit and a well are similar in many ways. It can certainly be discouraging to be excavating without assurance that a breakthrough is eminent. It can be deeply disheartening when those around us see only a pit without potential and make us feel misunderstood. There can be a dampening of spirits attempting to rejoice with others over their wells as we long for springs of our own to rise up.
Hold on to hope. Pick up that shovel. Continue to scoop. Others may see a pit without potential, but believe God has the vision and the power to transform the pit into an overflowing well.
Pray Through It
Thank You so much for giving us the opportunity to dig. Lord, I pray that You would provide the strength and opportunity for breakthroughs to happen, for wells to spring up in our lives. May they refresh us, renew our strength, and generously overflow allowing people to gather together rejoicing in Your many blessings.
Thank You Lord, for being with us in the depths of darkness. Thank You for the hope to fix our eyes upon in the hard, dirty times. Lord, Thank You for helping us to make adjustments around the distractions. Thank You for blessing the efforts of our hands with lessons for our lives. Thank You for the results that You release to us.
In the name of Jesus, whose love for us is an eternal wellspring of abundant life. Amen.