If you’ve been anywhere near Edinburgh in the last 12-18 months you’ll have a very practical appreciation of what it means to be surrounded by excavations…lots of roads closed, diversions, traffic jams, noisy equipment, piles of dirt everywhere!!! The re-introduction of trams to the city has provided a very practical demonstration of the fact that to build up/move forward/bring about a change…you first have to dig down, you have to excavate.
1. to hollow something out – to make a hole or cavity in something by removing the material inside
2. to uncover something with difficulty – to discover or expose something valuable by effort
3. to dig for artefacts – to dig in a place carefully and methodically with a view to uncovering objects of archaeological interest
Excavating isn’t always convenient, or pleasant. Excavating reveals things that have been hidden, sometimes for years.
When God calls us he also takes time to prepare us and this preparation involves allowing God into every corner of our lives. Even those we’d rather keep hidden.
Are there things in your life or in your heart that you’d rather God didn’t see or know about? Have you tried to cover them up with other things you think look more attractive? Have you tried to forget that they’re there? Are you withholding a part of yourself from God because you don’t like what He might find?
We can’t ever hide things from God but we can stop Him from being able to deal with them like He wants to. God will never force Himself into a part of your life you’re not willing to open but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t know its there. Our fear of what God might say or think, or what others might say or think, stops us from being completely open and accessible to God and it prevents Him from working in us and truly changing us.
Allowing God to excavate and investigate every bit of our hearts is one of the hardest things we can do…but it is also one of the best things we can do. God is the only one who knows how to deal with everything and anything we have hidden in our hearts. Our brokenness, our guilt, our shame, our fears, our loneliness, our shattered dreams, our bad attitudes, our jealousy…our sins.
He knows exactly what to do with them…like the world’s biggest garbage disposal…he can take them away and deal with them. It’s not always instantaneous, sometimes it takes time and hard work, but He can always deal with them. And what’s even better is that He will replace them with better things…like joy, hope, peace and love.
I love a line from the Delirious? song Investigate…
‘Investigate. I can’t wait. Excavate. Recreate’
I love that as God takes a long and deep look into all that we are, He also changes and re-creates us into the person He has designed and purposed for us to be. He can turn our ashes into something of beauty.
Excavations not only expose the rubbish that’s been covered and hidden but they also reveal treasures that have been concealed and buried. When we give God access into every part of our hearts He not only clears out the rubbish but He draws out the resources, reserves and raw materials that He placed in us before we were even born. He gives them a good polish and helps us to see them for what they are…valuable treasures. He helps us to see who we are…valuable, precious, important, costly, loved.
Are there things of value in your heart that God has revealed to you?
There is one other thing that I think of when I consider excavations. They are usually a preparation for something else…something bigger.
Even in archaeological (that’s a pretty big word!) excavations, although the excavation is very significant, it’s the history and information that can be gathered from the excavation that is the goal. The knowledge that can be gained and the ability to see how it all fits into a much bigger picture are what the majority of people would find useful. The actual hole in the ground is only deeply interesting to those who dug it (pun mildly intended!).
Do you share with other people the lessons that you have learnt from God? Do you share the knowledge in order to help others too? Through the things God has revealed to you, can you see how you fit into a bigger picture?
Other excavations are prepared for foundations. Any unsuitable material that exists at the site is removed so that more suitable material can be put in its place. Deep trenches and holes are created so that whatever structure is being created will be strong and stable and will be able to withstand whatever nature/life can throw at it.
When God wants to dig deep into our hearts it’s so that we can start to lay good, strong and deep foundations. God doesn’t want us to be unstable in the storms or toppled by the wind or washed away by the rain. He wants us to be steadfast, persistent, committed.
Have you allowed God to make space for you to start building good foundations? Do those excavations go deep enough or are there still things that need to be cleared and removed first? What kind of foundations are you building into your life?
Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the LORD.
Lamentations 3:40 (NIV)
God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I'm an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I'm never out of your sight.
You know everything I'm going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you're there,
then up ahead and you're there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can't take it all in!
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings
to the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute—
you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.
Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
God, I'll never comprehend them!
I couldn't even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
all the men and women who belittle you, God,
infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate you, God,
see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
Your enemies are my enemies!
Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I'm about;
See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.
Psalm 139 (The Message)
And as a reward for reading through all of that...here's a photo of an artichoke...because the bit you can eat is hidden, waiting to be revealed and enjoyed (very tenuous link)!