A New Year’s Resolution: Go Dig A Ditch Today and Wait For A Miracle

Recently a friend pointed out to me a passage she had just read in II Kings. I & II Kings are two of my favorite books in the Bible, and I had to revisit this story in light of the times in which we live. It brings hope in our times and what is being conveyed. The beauty of the Scriptures is every time you reread them, you can get a different perspective that has new meaning in your life.  

For some time now I have been fascinated with the concept of speaking faith versus doubt. Or another way of saying it, you reap what you sow, or “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Proverbs 15:7, Matt. 12:34, Luke 6:45). Listen to a hypochondriac, and you will see someone who is always sick. There is legitimate sickness in the world, but I am speaking about someone who is always saying they are sick often with minor ailments, and they speak of them all the time. There are two spiritual forces in the world and one is speaking faith which is of God, and the other is speaking doubt that can activate Satan. When you speak doubt, you preclude God from acting upon your request. A person would be hard pressed to open the Scriptures and not see when a person expresses faith, it is then God can work miracles. On the contrary, where faith is not being expressed, Jesus would not work a miracle. The French have a saying, miracles happen to those who believe in them. Throughout the New Testament “wherever Jesus walked signs and wonders followed” (Acts 2:22). Jesus didn’t perform miracles unless faith was spoken. If doubt was spoken on what Jesus could do, He often walked away. The examples of this are throughout the New Testament. It was faith that prompted Jesus to heal and perform miracles. Everyone would admit that why and who is healed is a mystery, but a person stacks the deck against themself if they speak doubt when they are looking for a miracle. There is the sappy and false side of this issue which we often see with those who preach the ‘prosperity gospel,’ or those sometimes called ‘pillow prophets,’ but there is raw truth in the concepts of what we speak matters.

Similar stories are in the Old Testament. In a world of much unending and continuing negative news from morning until night that permeates our culture, stories about faith are necessary to continually absorb into our spirit to maintain a proper balance of the spiritual versus the onslaught of filth that fill our senses. One of these stories is from II Kings 3. It is about the faith of one man (Elisha) that turned the tide of the negative for the people of Israel to a victory. As had happened so many times in Israel’s history, the Israelites had fallen into sin and disobedience from the statutes that Yahweh had prescribed for them. It was then the enemy was able to get a foothold or stronghold and Israel would often fall into idolatry and then defeat. This story is one of victory.   

The story is told in II KIngs 3:9-21:

So they set out the king of Israel, the king of Judah and the king of Edom. They followed a devious route for seven days, until there was no water left for the troops or for the beasts in their baggage train. Alas! The king of Israel exclaimed, Yahweh has summoned us three kings, only to put us in the power of Moab. But the king of Judah said, Is there no prophet of Yahweh here for us to consult Yahweh through him? One of the king of Israel’s servants answered, Elisha son of Shaphat is here, who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah. The word of Yahweh is with him the king of Judah said. So they went to him, the king of Israel, the king of Judah and the king of Edom. But Elisha said to the king of Israel, What business have you with me? Go to the prophets of your father and your mother.  No, the king of Israel answered, Yahweh has summoned us three kings, only to put us into the power of Moab. Elisha replied, As Yahweh Sabaoth lives, whom I serve, if I did not respect Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I should not take any notice of you, or so much look at you. Now bring me someone who can play the lyre. And as the musician played, the hand of Yahweh was laid on him and he said, Yahweh says this, dig ditch on ditch in this wadi (writer note: a wadi is a canal, gully, trench, ravine, etc.), for Yahweh says, you shall see neither wind nor rain, but this wadi will be filled with water, and you and your troops and your baggage animals shall drink. But this is only a little thing in the sight of Yahweh, for He will put Moab itself into your power. You shall storm every fortified town, fell every sound tree, block every water spring, ruin all the best fields with stones. Next morning at the time when the oblation was being offered, water came from the direction of Edom, and the country was filled with it.

Several important things are being said above. First, the kings expressed doubt in a situation when Elisha said this is only a little thing in the sight of Yahweh for He will put Moab itself into your power. The three kings just see defeat. What seems like something significant with us is not to God.  There is no obstacle too big where God cannot work.  

Second, Elisha said to dig a ditch so everyone could drink and have the needed water after taking a devious route for seven days until no water could be found. Digging a ditch to store water for man and beast to both drink is not a common practice. Elisha had been given the mantle of authority from Elijah as both had been members of “the company of prophets.” Elijah is recognized as one of the greatest miracles workers in the entire Old Testament. The Jewish people thought so much of him they asked if Jesus was Elijah reincarnated (some also thought John the Baptist was Elijah in the flesh) since Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a fiery chariot and had never died.

When Elijah was in discourse with the prophets of Baal about who is worshipping the real God, Elijah challenges them in several ways and ends up mocking and taunting all 450 of the prophets of Baal for their pagan beliefs. Elijah is alone against 450 false prophets, and he stands his ground. Elijah tells them to build a trench (wadi) and then further tells them to fill it with water not once, but three times to make sure the wood is soaking wet before he summons fire. Elijah wants to leave no doubt that fire can consume the wood even though it has been soaked three times. It is very possible that Elisha as a disciple of Elijah is doing precisely the same thing he did to show God’s majesty and glory in the presence of doubt, and what God will do when asked in faith.

How Some Others Acted in Faith

Whether it be Joan of Arc marching into battle under the commands of God and how to fight, and never losing a battle when she did as the Lord instructed, Polish king Jan Sobieski marching his army from Poland to Vienna expressing supernatural faith, saving Christendom from the Ottoman Turks, Moses stepping by faith into the Red Sea with the mightiest army on earth in pursuit of them, or Joshua expressing faith to enter the promised land when others did not, or Saint John Bosco inspired to build a church, gave the builder a nickel instructing him to go build the cathedral he was asked in prayer to construct, or Mother Angelica on faith bought a $600,000 satellite dish without having the funds in the bank, and a man then calls her that she never knew, with the exact sum pledging his support of her vision for the fledging network called the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). Maximilian Kolbe on faith wanted to start a printing press for a magazine on faith with no experience.

In a short time, Kolbe and his friars were printing one million copies of a periodical per print run. During this period the Franciscan Friary he started became the largest friary in the world with 760 monks and priests. Money would mystically show up at his doorstep to ensure his vision came to fruition. But first, he as others stepped out in faith declaring his intentions, and then Heaven took over. If you were to indiscriminately open the bible you would find similar stories. Nearly the entire body of saints in the Catholic Church lived like this, thus their exalted status as examples for us to follow.  In the worst of circumstances, the saints still spoke and acted in great faith.

It is by actions of faith that God works. In Luke 1:45 we see what is the greatest YES by a prompting of the Holy Spirit when a young girl, Mary of Nazareth, is confronted by a mystery she doesn’t understand, yet acts in faith. It reads, “Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled. Faith and surrender brought the Incarnation of Jesus Christ to the world through a simple young girl who said YES to what God was asking. Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel is unique in all human discourse when she says, Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word. Then the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38).      

The first step is saying God is bigger than an existing situation that looks impossible. This is precisely what Elisha did above. It is actions such as these that separate the great prophets from others. The saints from the lukewarm. Saints act on what they believe they are being told by the Holy Spirit —and they move on that inspiration. America is not about surrendering hope, it is about announcing it. If we are to perish as a nation which at the moment is in very rapid decline, the tide of surrender for many must be reversed. In this malaise, many find themselves being stripped of hope. This must change. By getting into the Scriptures, we will be energized to speak up and have an active faith. Saint James says, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). This compliments the age-old motto of the Benedictine Order (Saint Benedict 480-547), ora et labora— Prayer and work. It is from our contemplation in prayer where our actions will reflect God’s best. For every hour Saint Thomas Aquinas spoke, he was on his knees for two hours prior to his talk.

If one sees the purpose of our existence is eternal life, many other activities and thoughts will be pushed to the curb. The great people of God recognized this and never lost sight of what is most important. Prayer and work in their proper context are the very embodiment of the way to salvation. As Saint Benedict and Saint James tell us, it is not the time for anxiety, stress, depression or despair.  With God all things are possible, but we must be engaged in the fight to preserve, truth, liberty, and freedoms.

The battle is for the mind. Dark forces are trying to get people to focus on discouragement and fear. These are not esoteric words or concepts, but things we must cherish to live as a free people to be able to express our faith as God has ordained it. If you are sitting on the fence watching the debauchery of the culture, it is time to get engaged and speak out in faith and walk with courage and believe that God has a plan. Remember, the truth if spoken by one, (like Elijah and Elisha in trying times) is still the truth. It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. As Jesus told Saint Faustina, “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust.”  With God All Things Are Possible.

                                            Jesus I Trust in You