“We are all ditch dwellers,” Kirk Vander Molen, Director of Missional Integrity announced. My takeaway from the Love INC National Gathering was something unexpected. It pointed a gnarly finger at me, a ditch dweller. The general idea was: How do I identify with the characters in the parable of the Good Samaritan? In truth, I’ve always identified with the Samaritan or one of the other passersby. But here I am challenged to peer over the ditch to the side of the road; dirty, beaten, my hand raised to a hurried traveller and begging help. I have been the ditch dweller more often than I care to admit.
Sometimes I refuse to believe that I am stuck in a ditch and in my pride I turn a blind eye to hands reached out to help me. Other times I am slithering along loose gravel reaching down into pits deeper than mine to other ditch dwellers, and lifting them out. It’s the Garden all over again. I am desperately trying to be God rather than acting on behalf of God. And I feel superior. Better about myself because I am a ditch desperado. All the while, my own ditch is dug deeper.
Because we all have them, you know. A rut. A ditch. A reoccurring failure. Times we have been taken advantage of. Times we have taken advantage of others.
But what if I changed my perspective of service from highway traveller to fellow ditch dweller? What if I allowed my life to be a ladder for others who are reaching out for help and point them to the only One who is called Good? The Good Shepherd. He can heal them better than I ever could. Our problem as ditch dwellers isn’t the ditch we are in or the abusers who left us there, but how deeply we allow ourselves to be healed. Most times we want a quick fix and a hastily applied bandaid. But the Great Physician wants to go deep and wash festering wounds that will soon infect the whole Body. But we turn away from pain until we are so weak that we have no choice. Receive healing or be a different kind of ditch digger. The kind that we all become at the end of it all.
It can be frustrating, dealing with ditch dwellers. Most times, they don’t want our help. They take advantage. They want the bandaid and not the surgery. Though we can see clearly the help that they need, they resist and often refuse. But when we remember our experiences as ditch dwellers, can we blame them?
Providing needs without introducing others to the Great Provider only insures that they will be insatiably needy. It’s the bandaid before the disinfectant. Encasing germs and grime and in the end only making wounds worse. For there is only one thing we need more than any common cure and that’s uncommon care. And the only care that’s uncommon reaches deep into the deepest parts and dresses wounds creating astounding momentary pain but bringing great eternal health. There is an uncommon call to reach into ditches while remembering that we too are ditch dwellers. This uncommon call begs that we not rescuing alone, but that we rescue in communion with Christ. Only He can transform our ditches into furrowed trenches ready for seed; ready for newness of life. Doing things in our own name only digs ditches deeper. Doing things in His Name transforms ditches into a row in His garden. It turns morning into dancing and creates beauty from ashes. It transforms. And just as I am crawling out of my ditch, I can humbly turn and offer a hand to another…and then place that hand into His.