He was lame from his birth. As a mature man he was carried daily and placed at the gate of the Temple to beg for money to sustain himself.
As the two men approached the gate, he raised his voice and his vessel with anticipation, hoping to receive something from them. One of the men spoke up with a voice of compassion, commanding him:
“Silver and gold have I none but such as I have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
Reaching down and grasping his right hand the stranger lifted him to his feet. For the first time in his life he was able to stand. With shouts of praise unto God, he went walking and leaping into the temple.
Though he was only expecting a few coins in his cup he received a miraculous healing and a brand new life.
Like this lame man at the Beautiful Gate, we can safely trust in Jesus. He is a God of abundance and He will exceed our expectations every time.
The sun was hot over the Wilderness of Paran where a group of expectant families looked to the land of Canaan, anxiously awaiting the return of the twelve men who had been sent to check out the land. Everything in their lives hinged on the moment they would cross the Jordan River. The long hours they had toiled as slaves in Egypt, the years spent in the desert, the stories they had heard as children – everything was building up to this.
Then, to their families’ delight, a dozen tired men cast shadows on the road home. What tales of the land would they bring? What were they carrying? Could it be fruit? Indeed, two men were carrying an enormous cluster of grapes on a pole between them. Others had packages laden with pomegranates and figs. Taking everything in, their hopes must have soared. The Promised Land was everything they had hoped it would be.
But then the spies issued their report.
In spite of the riches they had encountered, most were upset. In observing the people of the mountains and the harvests of the valleys, they could only see trouble. In spite of the fertile soil and abundant harvests, they only saw the hardships ahead. In spite of God’s awesome promise of provision, they could not seem to take Him at His word. When they looked across their valley, they could only see the giants that blocked their pathway – not the nourishment that would keep them through it all. Sadly, it was this mindset that caused Israel a forty-year delay before they could set their feet in the Promised Land.
But the story goes on.
With their aged leader near the end of his life, the children of the previous generation looked across the fertile valleys, awaiting Moses’ instruction. They were ready. They took in the rolling hills and bubbling springs and could not wait to cross over. God had promised that there were valleys filled with nourishment. For a people who had spent years as slaves, struggling to get by, then years in the desert, living on faith that God would provide, it was an awesome promise:
“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper.” (Deuteronomy 8:7-9)
While it is wonderful to live in the promises of God, it does not mean we will not walk through valleys. It does not mean there will not be obstacles to face. But it is often in the valleys were the soil is richest and nourishment abounds. If we only focus on the giant obstacles that block us from reaching everything God has for us, it can be so easy to overlook the blessings He provides for us along the way. Even in the darkest valleys of life, God provides everything we need to flourish.
King Jehoshaphat looked across the desert valley, his brow creased with worry for the upcoming battle with Moab. The kings and armies of Israel and Edom stood alongside him. They were all stranded and desperate for water. Their battle plans would fall apart if they could not find sustenance for all three armies, along with their animals.
They had surely heard tales of a grizzled prophet who had prayed for rain during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel in Israel. Although Elijah was gone, Jehoshaphat was still determined to find a prophet in the wilderness. A servant remembered a man called Elisha, who had been the apprentice of the fabled prophet. They sought him out and he offered a very simple set of instructions:
“Make this valley full of ditches.” (II Kings 3:16)
It must have seemed insane. Three armies of fighting men, their swords and shields gleaming in the desert sun, were there for a fight – not to do the kind of work an unskilled laborer could handle. It must have seemed like a waste of their strength and training. Why bring together the armies of three kingdoms just to dig ditches? But they obeyed. They dug the Edomite valley full of ditches. And then came the morning. Although no rain had fallen, water blanketed the valley, filling the newly dug trenches. Their odd job resulted in enough water to satisfy the thirst of both the armies and their animals.
Meanwhile, the Moabite army watched the scene across the border. They saw liquid gleaming in the ditches and were convinced it must be the blood of armies that had turned on each other. Operating under the assumption that their enemies were dead, they impulsively saddled up and rushed the border, hoping for spoils. Instead, a hoard of newly strengthened warriors were ready for them. The victory was won because the armies took the time to dig.
As we wander through life’s valleys, there are times we feel all hope is lost. Dreams may be on hold. All of the things that propelled us forward seem far away and we wonder how we will survive. When we pray God asks us to do something totally unrelated to what we had originally planned. We wonder if we misunderstood – after all, why would God ask us to do something that has no possible chance of helping us?
Had the armies not dug ditches in their valley even though were there to fight a war, they would have found themselves unprepared for battle while the enemy would have been ready. Instead, God turned the tables in such a way that He alone would receive the glory. Even when you do not understand what God asks of you, rest assured that He knows what He is doing.
Sometimes it is in the digging of a ditch that we pave the way for our miracles.