Mark Affleck

Are You Moving The Dirt?

January 14, 2017
Spiritual Growth

No, not literally. My question is really about making our faith journey an exploration. Here’s the story.
This idea came to me while I was building our house and watching a huge earthmover eat through ruts, trees, and concrete as it rumbled across the property. Before the operator started, I asked him how he knew where to begin and what to do with so many unknowns in his path. He told me that the engineer’s plan provided general direction, but it was not until he started moving the dirt that he really knew what to do. He explained that each time he moved some dirt he learned a little more about how the ground was sloped and what was underneath each section of the parcel. He kept repeating, “You’ve got to move the dirt. You’ve got to move the dirt.”
I then asked him when he would have enough experience to feel more confident before he started the project. He replied assertively, “I’ve been doing this for thirty-two years and I am as good as the best. If I waited for the day I knew everything about the property and how to shape it before starting the project, I would never get on the tractor.”
I learned a lot from that short exchange under a blistering Southern California sun. It was clear to me that the key was getting started. I learned that moving closer to God accelerates when we “begin to begin” no matter how uncertain and menacing the future looks. It is our faith activated over risk and beyond our fear. This approach increases our trust in God and prompts us to explore with confident hope for what he will do in our life, even though we don’t have all the answers.
Try looking at it like this: There is no such thing as “on time,” only early or late. If we wait until everything reveals itself before “moving the dirt,” nothing will be revealed. That is the way it is for us in our walk with Jesus. We all want to plan everything out before we commit to a consistent walk with God or to serve in ministry, but the Lord tells us to toss out all efforts to find a prescribed, ideal situation.
Let me be clear…I totally understand the strong urge to secure a precise road map with no detours or wrong turns, no surprises, and no risks. Heck, I’m an expert at that search! But the trouble comes when the trouble of life comes. And, of course, it always comes. Even the best plans are too fragile to hold up under the pressure. Even the best plans are imperfect. Even the best plans break when tested.
That’s why we need to jump on the tractor!
God wants us to put our trust in him and let him drive us to new levels of joy. The more “dirt” we move, the more confidence God gives us. Eventually, even though there is always danger and risk, God gives us the strength to explore the unknown and uncertain without fear or hesitation.
We’ve got to move the dirt!
“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.” Psalm 73:23-24

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