Digging Ditches

I'll always remember "digging ditches." 


Our team learned a very important principle that has shaped our lives and will impact us forever.  This season taught us the principle that small steps and hard work often precipitate a movement of God!  That human action prepares the way for supernatural favor.  Sometimes God asks us to make preparations for receiving a miracle.  John Wooden once said that"when opportunity comes, it's too late for preparation."  I wonder if the same concept can apply to our spiritual lives? 


I'm always asking myself: Why do some teams never reach their potential?  Why do some seem to get stuck?  Why is this person not reaching his potential? Why is he stuck?


In his book Greater, Steven Furtick would say it comes down to two simple concepts. 

1.     We often don't think God is big enough.

2.     We aren't willing to start small enough.


Most of us don't think how big God is and what he wants to do in our lives.  He has big dreams for our lives but too often we settle for less.  I wish my default thinking was Ephesians 3:20 and I always believed God's could do more than I could ever ask or imagine!


You can’t expect God to entrust you with a big dream if He can’t trust you to make a small start. God won’t do big things in our lives simply because we sit and dream. We can’t accomplish these big things by sitting on the couch or just talking about them. The active ingredient in joining God’s big vision is our willingness to start with small steps.
— Steven Furtick

If God really does have big dreams out for us, how do we see it through?


I'll always remember overlooking the New River gorge in West Virginia with all our fathers.  It was the last day of our Father-Son Retreat.  We had an absolute blast spending time in the wild with our dads.  We laughed, played and had some incredible talks around the fire.  On that Sunday, as we watched the fog burn off the mountain side, one of our seniors passionately shared that he believed God was calling this team to something "greater."  Nervous but with affection in his voice, he challenged all of us to begin "digging ditches!"


The team was challenged with a "blue collar faith."  The vision was big and audacious but the steps to take were small and ordinary.  This wasn't any ordinary team discussion.  You could sense God was in this circle.  It was obvious the team's faith was moving beyond a state of mind and into a course of action. Faith was about to become work in the form of "digging ditches."


Nobody understood this ditch digging faith more than Elisha.  In 2 Kings 3, the story unfolds.  Israel finds itself with it's back against the wall.  As par for the course, they decide that they now need a miracle from God.  If they don't get one, they will die of thirst stuck out in the desert.  Elisha steps up and receives a word from God.  Just as a coach gathering his team, Elisha summons his men and boldly lays the plan.  "Get out your shovels boys and start digging ditches.  For tomorrow, the Lord will deliver the rain."   Pretty odd game plan considering the circumstances, right?  As history has it, the Israelites dug all night and the next morning the ditches were full of water.  This was enough to fuel their eventual victory over their enemies. 


I'll always remember the way the message resonated with our team that morning.  God is about to do something big.  Don't sit around and wait for it.  Put your work gloves on, grab your shovel and start digging.  And we ought to dig ditches using every means available. We can dig ditches with our words, our prayers, our expectations, and even with our thoughts.  We would dig them in our locker room, our dorms, the gym and in the weight room. We, like the Israelites, were going to make the "valley full of ditches!"



Prayer became our ditch-digging. It took on a whole new meaning in our season! We prayed bold prayers.  We prayed specific prayers.  We prayed expectant prayers!  I'll always remember Lane stopping the team before making the triumphal entry into the gym for pre-game warm-ups.  The band was playing, crowd cheering but all would be on pause until the team was done praying.  I'll always remember meeting Grant Zawadzki at 6 AM Thursday mornings in our locker room to hit our knees for his teammates.  Those prayers changed me as much as anybody we were praying for.  I'll never forget the stories of Father-Son relationships being strengthened because they were praying and the joy that brought upon the face of a young man.



It wasn't always easy.  There were moments when we began to question God's faithfulness.  Things didn't always seem clear.  When the injuries piled up, we began to wonder if the rain was coming.   Doubt and fatigue encircled us after losing to the same team for the third time.  It was during these times that God was developing our spiritual muscles!  It wasn't time to put down the shovel, it was time to keep digging.  Small steps, hard work, expecting rain...


I'll always remember the ditch we dug the night before the championship game. I needed that prayer time more than anybody.  Sleepless night combined with the stress of post-season play will attack and leave any coach vulnerable.  As we transitioned from our Final Four victory and onto the National Championship, the only thing on my heart was revenge.  However, God's desire for fearless coaching couldn't coincide with a vengeful heart.  Through a powerful prayer time with our team, He transformed my heart from revenge to redemption.  Isn't that the story of the Gospel? Focus shifted off of our opponent and onto the work God had been doing in our team throughout the year.  It amazes me the circumstances God chooses to reveal to us his nature. 


We walked into the gym the next day with unified hearts and fearless minds. We had spent months digging ditches. When the horn sounded it was a spectacular sight to experience the rain.  Instead of running to the cameras and making a statement that this victory was about us, the team gathered and knelt to make a statement that this moment was about His redemptive work in our lives.  Yes, we think God is big enough and yes we were willing to start small enough in order to experience His greater things for our lives!


God has a downpour scheduled for all of our lives.  The question is, what ditch is God calling you to dig so you are ready for the rain?

 -Coach Greg Tonagel