Your mansion at the top of the hill is waiting for you. It is not for someone else it is just for you. Can you see it? Do you want it? The only way to get it is self-control. I think that we may need to talk about this over and over again because we are human and we slow learners. I want to draw your attention to a story Matthew 16 and Mark 8 relay to us. Jesus has previously fed 5000 not including women and children. The disciples picked up 12 baskets at the end. Then, Jesus feeds 4000 not including women and children. The disciples picked up 7 baskets of left overs. The Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus unsuccessfully and He calls them out for holding to the tradition of men rather than the commands of God. When He is finished talking to them they get into the boat again and Jesus says to the disciples, who forgot the bread, to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. They are confused but Jesus clarifies.
The thing that bothered Jesus most was the fact they forgot about the feeding of the 9000 not including women and children. In Mark’s Gospel, directly after this confrontation with both the Pharisees then the Disciples, he tells a story about the blind man gaining his sight from Jesus step by step. This is how we are all going to learn about Jesus and His will for us. If we do not enact self-control during this process we will never know the will of God for our lives. Our mansion on the hill will be forever out of our reach. The ditch teaches us what we need to change and if we do not learn self-control in the ditch we will stay there. We need to learn two very important precepts to getting out of the ditch – know what put you in and what you need to do to get out.
The Ditch in His Will
You are in the ditch because you are on the road to your mansion. If you weren’t you wouldn’t care about being in the ditch so much because it would just be part of life. The joy that we have for being a Christian makes us wonder why the ditches even exist for us. There is only one reason for the ditch, to learn. We learn two precepts though, to continue learning and to obey God. Our first trip into the ditch on the road to our mansion is perplexing. It causes us to question the path we are on. Is this God’s will for us? Is that my mansion or a mansion from God?
God causes us to go into the ditch to test our faith and our obedience. If we pass the test we will have strengthened our faith and our resolve to obey God. Whether we believe it or not His will is happening even while we dwell with the frogs and the snakes. We look in front of us to see a frog and a snake making their way to our mansion faster than we are. This causes great anguish and more questions. Why do those who disobey God seem to have what we desire? We are in this ditch dwelling for days, months, years and those reptiles are advancing to our mansion. We try and try but cannot get out of the ditch. Finally, we stop to ask – why am I in here and what do I have to do to get out.
In His Will in the Ditch
I think I spent the first four years of salvation in the ditch. Then, God made me start writing about the things I was learning. I was still in the ditch. He had a plan for me to get out but it was my plan not yours. I want to say to you – do this or do that – but I cannot because I do not know what God is doing in your life right now. All I can say to you is, “God has a plan for this ditch and He will work it out in your life.” You will see others advancing in what seems to be your will. You will see others never see the inside of a ditch.
What we need to do while we are in the ditch is believe God and let Him tell you how to get out. I know exactly how hard that is. From day one of salvation I was a ditch dweller. How does one believe God’s goodness when one is overcome by reptiles? He taught me how to believe Him and He will teach you too. I know you want the seven steps out of the ditch and the five ways to avoid the ditch (so did I) but if it is God’s will for you to be in the ditch, the steps I give you will not work. You need to follow His will for you in the ditch or you will stay there.
A Contented Ditch Dweller
The ditch Is not a nice place to dwell. Even the mature Christians gets caught in the ditch sometimes. If we are unwilling to ask the two questions of God that will make our life easier even the maturest in God’s knowledge will dwell for a while. Maturity should mean we are asking the question faster and getting to the work sooner than someone who is new to Christianity. Why am I in the ditch is not a weird question nor is it intruding into things we shouldn’t know. It is a smart question those who love Jesus ask all the time even for other Christians. God will reveal the why’s to us if we ask. Asking what we need to do to get out of the ditch is also a very smart question. You can try on your own until you have no strength left if you wish but you will still have to petition God for answers. The ditch always brings us to the will of God.
Following the will of God for our life is why we know about the mansion. It is why we desire the mansion on the hill. It is how we see the mansion. It is why we exist. The joy of God means we will not ditch dwell even when we are in the ditch. We will be content in the ditch because we know we are still in the will of God. The way God teaches us shows us how to get out of the ditch every time. Once we have a history of escaping the ditch we believe He will do it again so we remain in joy while ditch dwelling knowing He will remove us when it is His will to remove us. While you are in the ditch you might as well have fun. Play leap frog and Snakes and Latter’s. Don’t start playing before you learn the truth about why you are in the ditch and how you are going to get out.