Thursday, May 18, 2017

Digging Ditches

Years ago a man named Daryl asked me to dig a ditch for him.   He was going to pay me five dollars or something like that.   It was a simple task.   There was a water line to be buried and he wanted it to cross the road from his well to the natural spring on the other side.   I set out digging that ditch with my brother.  A few minutes later I had dug what I thought was a ditch and went back home to relax.   My dad came later and made me get up and go with him.   He explained to me that I needed to clean that ditch up, go deeper with it, and make right.   So I dug again.  Three times this happened before that ditch was both deep enough and clear of gravel enough to be proper for a water pipe.   My problem was that I was trying to earn that five dollars by doing the bare minimum.   The man asked for a ditch?   I gave him a ditch.   My father taught me that the bare minimum was never good enough.  If I was going to do something, I needed to do it right.

Sometimes we want to do that with Christianity.   We want to do just what we have to do to satisfy the 'rules'.   Our ditch is dug but it's still full of debris.   Full of rocks, and twigs, and things that when a dry season comes or a cold one are going to push and pull the spirit inside us in the wrong ways.   Jesus reminds us that we have to keep His commands.  If we go back and read all of the New Testament we find that His commands aren't just a set of rules to be followed, rather they are a way of life.   A life that involves love.   Love for God, neighbor, and self.   When we are showing love that doesn't mean we do the least we can.  If I try that with my wife and kids they'll know I am a fake.  Love means going out of the way to show it at all times.   That doesn't mean it's easy, or that we succeed all the time, but that we never give up trying.

For some, that sounds like a boring proposition.  A life that is constantly serving God and others? How droll.  Jesus in today's Gospel tells us something that we learn from the experience of that self-sacrificial life.    He says, "I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and our joy might be complete."   A life lived for God and others is a life filled with joy.   It's a union with Christ that is not possible without allowing Him to work through us.  When we follow those simple commands of "Love the Lord God will all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself" we find a freedom, a joy, and a desire for life.   We also find that there isn't a bar for us to hit.   We then do everything to the fullest of our ability.  We don't halfway dig a ditch, we put our heart and soul into it.  We turn digging with a shovel in the earth into a prayer of offering, thanksgiving, and praise.   That's what it means to be praying at all times without ceasing.  God is love.  When we do things in love, we experience Him in our lives, in our hearts, and in our souls.

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. - Psalm 19:14

A reflection on the readings for Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter: May 18th, 2017