Dig. That’s what I do. I dig. I can hear Him speak when I start to waiver, when I’m tired. Dig, He says. Don’t stop, don’t give up, don’t look at where you are, just dig. So I dig. He has promised rain, I must have ditches ready for it.
I’ll admit, sometimes I look at where I am. Sometimes I choose to see the cracks in the ground and feel the dry, desert heat. Sometimes I forget that He is right there with me, surrounding me with His presence. I get tired. My arms get sore and my throat gets dry. It is then that I remember, I’ve been here before. I’ve been in this place. Maybe it wasn’t so hot last time and I don’t remember it being quite this dry. But yes, I’ve been here.
I remember the smell of the dirt and the sight of all those people. Some were digging but a great many more were just dying. I don’t want to think about being here before. I try to push the thought from my mind. I have work to do. Stay busy, dig, dig, dig. He promised rain. It doesn’t matter if I’m tired, it doesn’t matter if I’ve been here before, it doesn’t matter what I remember. It’s going to rain and I need to dig ditches. Yet I know it matters. It matters that I’ve been here. He steadies my hand on the shovel and whispers in my ear telling me to listen, urging me to remember. My brain begins to buzz as He brings the memory to the front of my mind.
I remember. I play the memory in mind like an old recorded movie I don’t quite understand. Pausing, rewinding, playing again. It wasn’t quite as hot and I didn’t need Him as much. I hit rewind again, looking for the times I leaned against Him and allowed him to do the work for me, but I can’t find it. I hit rewind again and again. When did I see Him over me? When did I allow the blood to flow over me and oil my shovel? It seems that I did so much digging on my own, without Him. I hit the play button of my memory and keep watching. I watch as my digging gets lazier and my body gets weaker. I watch as I look to the sky and curse it for the lack of rain. I watch as I lay down my shovel and sit on the ground waiting to die. I watch as those around me continue to dig with smiles on their faces shouting at me telling me not to stop because it’s going to rain. But I stop anyway. I stopped digging. Yes, I’ve been here before but I stopped digging. I remember the feeling of being dry bones as I laid on the ground to die. I remember giving up.
So how am I still alive now? How is it possible? And why am I here again? Remember, He says. Remember. I watched myself give up. I watched as I wasted away. I watched as ditches were dug all around me by the diggers and I became the dying.
And then I watched as it began to rain. A few drops at first and then the sky opened up and poured rain for what seemed like days. Each ditch was filled to the top and overflowing with rainwater. But I never finished even one ditch. I had nothing to drink from. I want to stop remembering now. The pain is too much. What if this happens again? What if this time I stop digging? What if I forget that He is with me again? What if I become the dying again. But He urges me on. Remember.
I remember. I remember the diggers as they danced and swam and drank refreshing water from their ditches. Ditches they dug when it was hot and dry and there hadn’t been rain in ages. Ditches they dug when they were tired. Ditches they dug when they felt like giving up. Ditches they dug in the weakest, hardest moments of their lives. Remember. I remember…someone brought me water. I couldn’t even crawl so someone brought it to me. The next moment I was drenched in water. The diggers had filled up their pockets, their hands and their whole bodies with it. They came near and it just flowed out of them and poured over me. And I remembered, I survived the last time I was here because the ditches were for the dying.
It’s hot here. The land is scorched. It’s dry and all around me lie the bones of the dying. But it’s going to rain. So I’m digging ditches for the ones that aren’t digging. I’m digging for the bones of the dying and dead. I’m digging because I remember that His rain brought life to my dead and dying bones. I’m digging for the dying.