treasures in trenches

            A few weeks ago in late July, I spent my entire Saturday working on a cattle ranch to earn money in order to pay off a speeding ticket that had been lurking above my head. So naturally, I signed up for a job posting to work on the Martin Cattle Ranch, in which the only requirement was for someone “hard-working, able to lift heavy items, and who has experience with being a ranch hand.” I am hard working I suppose, I thought to myself, subtract the part about lifting and minus the experience being a ranch hand, how hard could it really be, I thought. So a few Saturdays ago, from the wee hours of the morning to the setting sun sinking back into the horizon, I dug a trench. My new friend, Megan, and I dug for hours on end. Hair braided to look the part, gloves on my soon-to-be-blistered hands, and shovels in motion, we got to work in the scorching Texas heat. I played music from my phone to make the work seem like less work, and then I started thinking to myself. What exactly is the purpose of this trench, and why does it feel like we will never finish digging around the perimeter of the house, my mind wandered aimlessly.  Will the money I make today be worth it, and will the exhaustion from the heat and my muscles being extremely sore in the morning seem worth the labor.  Megan began chatting with me and sharing parts of her story.  To make time pass while digging our trench, we discussed our deep thoughts about life, and college, and her family’s ranch.  And we also talked about singleness. How it can be draining when everyone around you seems to have found that person, and how it can be discouraging when everyone around you seems to have found love that will last, and you have yet to find that love. How being single can feel like running a marathon but the finish line isn’t quite in sight or like swimming in the ocean without seeing the shore. And at once, it hit me all of a sudden.

Singleness can feel a lot like digging a trench. Feeling lonely or unwanted or unlovable can feel kind of like sweating in the 100 degree southern heat when your thirst desperately quenches for a sip of iced cold water to relieve you for just a little bit. You don’t always see the purpose of it, like my prone to wandering thoughts while I was working on the ranch. You don’t necessarily always enjoy it, like wishing I was spending my Saturday laying out by a pool or getting my nails done instead of stepping out of my comfort zone in the tiny little town called George, Texas all to simply clear my name with the law. In a time of singleness in life, we don’t always know what God is doing.  Therefore, we question and doubt and allow our thoughts to wander astray. Am I still worthy of love, will I find someone who cherishes and adores me and wants to share life with me, or will I be in a state of singleness forever and end up alone…

Megan and I finished digging the trench. The sky was full of beautiful colors and the heat had finally subsided into the cool briskness of the evening. As we walked around the entire house admiring our hard work, it felt really good to have worked hard and accomplished something significant. I felt as if the trench, that had seemed absolutely pointless and ridiculous at first, had turned into something beautiful and marvelous like it actually had served a purpose. The owner of the ranch stepped out of the house and raved about our trench. He thanked us for our hard work and proceeded to hand us each a sum of money that would justify my speeding ticket. But then he said something to us that struck a cord in my heart. He looked Megan and I in the eye and said, “Ladies, I would not have been able to do this without your help today. My family has been complaining about the termites in the house for such a long time, so now the chemicals poured into the trench y’all built will ward off the termites so the house will be comfortable and suitable again for the people I love.” Alas, the purpose of digging the trench.  One day, something absolutely astounding and holy and wonderful will result from this time for you, my friend. God is weaving an intricately and deeply beautiful story in your life right in this very moment, in this very second, and there is no reason to wait because the story has already begun. Perseverance, beauty, and true character will be uncovered inside the exhaustion, the discouragement, and the hard times. Within the rock lies the gem of the purpose of singleness.

My extremely wise friend Ellie once told me an analogy about a treasure and a hunter. The hunter is determined to find his treasure and the Lord had given him a map that would lead to it in His perfect timing. However, until the hunter discovers the treasure that his map was leading to, the treasure remains in a box known as “God is enough.”  The treasure does not run around flaunting it’s brightly shining self at the hunter, nor does the treasure taunt the hunter until he finds it. The treasure is content. The treasure is unique and beautiful and knows it’s worth is found in something greater than the sparkly surface level of gold and diamonds. The treasure, my dear friends, knows that it’s worth comes from the value held within.  I asked Ellie, “Wait a second, so who is the treasure?” as Ellie then responded, “Meredith, you are the treasure.” My heart did a little flip flop inside of my chest when I thought of myself as a treasure. A treasure that deserves to be pursued by a hunter whom the Lord will give a map to my heart. But until then, I will trust and believe that God is enough for me and that He is all I need.  And in my treasure box, I am perfectly satisfied in the arms of my Savior. Today and everyday, I will choose to rest in the fact that my value comes from who Jesus says I am, “I am His” (Isaiah 43:1).

Please believe me when I say that you too, beloved, are a valuable treasure (1 Peter 2:9).

Exodus 19:5 “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.” (KJV)

ranch lyfe.jpg


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