I just finished reading “Digging Ditches: The LatestChapter of an Inspirational Life” by WEC missionary Helen Roseveare. After serving twenty years in the Congo and having just completed nine months of deputation meetings in the US, God gave Helen these words:
“Make this valley full of ditches!”
She explains: So I was to learn to go deeper down, to ‘dig ditches’, that were often unseen and unrecognized by others, but which God promised to fill with blessing for others. My first instinct was, ‘OK, God, I’ll dig you a Suez Canal!’ but that was not what He asked for! My Lord wanted just daily, small obediences; He wanted me to do whatever needed to be done next, without needing to be thanked or recognized, without a pedestal or a halo. I write beside these words:
I want to be a ditch digger!
Other quotes from the book that encouraged and challenged me:
“Did I want a job description that others could read and understand, or was I willing to be in the background and do what needed doing, even if never thanked? And I suddenly saw this as a privilege, not price! So many of the things we think of as price in a missionary’s life (giving up home, culture, language, rat-race, salary, being married and having one’s own family, pension, whatever) is truly privilege.”
“And if He sees that even a tiny scrap of self-pleasing has crept into my service, if He knows that I am beginning to rely on my being able to do what He wants me to do, and not wholly on His being able to do what He wants done even when I cannot…then He must strip me of myself, of my dependence on my ability, even of my apparent ability to know Him, and share Him with others.”
“Over the years, I have said to others, ‘When you feel hurt, stop and pray.’ As I have already written ‘hurt’ means that self is very much alive, and striving to get back on the throne of my life. If Jesus really dwells in me, I ought not to hurt. I may well be grieved over the behavior of others, or by certain events but not hurt. Hurt is a symptom of self. If I let the Lord have His rightful place on the throne of my life, He will handle that which causes the hurt.”
Finally in response to the question ‘Why does a God of love allow suffering?’ she answers: “God led me then to realize that it is because He is a God of love that He suffered for us, and that now He invites us to share in His sufferings.”
Lord, help me to be a ditch digger…
to be content in small daily obediences without seeking the praise of men, but of You alone.