Back when we lived in the UK, we did a house renovation. Part of it was to extend out sideways. We had a garage that needed to be knocked down to make space so new foundations could be put down. The builders brought in their heavy machinery and got to work with tearing down that which was old and not serving a purpose anymore, clearing the debris, and then excavating the ground to make space and ensure solid foundations could be built. Foundations that would enable a home to be built; a home that would last.
You might not have ever built a home, but regardless of your building experience, I'm going to hazard a guess that there has been excavation in your own life. I'm going to go ahead and assume that because you're human you've been hurt once or twice in life. I know I have. And, as a coach, I know a bit about how to process and what to do with that hurt when it happens.
And for all the Godly wisdom and practices and tools that we can apply to clear the debris of disappointment, destruction or despair, there is one tool that far exceeds the work we can do ourselves.
We often only get to see surface level. Yep - our emotions may well bubble up from deep within and indicate all sorts of external issues to be dealt with, but there is only One who can truly see to the bottom of what needs excavating:
"Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."
Friend, when we're hurt, this needs to be our cry. Because as much as we might think we've dealt with the pain, forgiven the perpetrator, 'moved on', and grown. Until we've opened ourselves up to the thorough search of the Spirit, we don't truly know what might be lurking in the depths threatening the integrity of our lives and faith.
The Hebrew word for "Search me", חָקַר "chaqar," implies a thorough and deliberate search, akin to a deep excavation. It's a search that goes to intimate depths and invites God to delve into the recesses of our being, unearthing even the hidden aspects we might overlook.
Holy Spirit desires to excavate our hearts, never to shame us, but so that He can set to work excavating and removing anything that might hinder our forward momentum into the full life that Jesus won for us. He is intent on taking away anything that threatens to cause trouble for us in the future. This search goes to the very core of our being. To "know my heart" (לֵב Hebrew "leb") encompasses not only emotions but the very essence of who we are. The psalmist surrenders their entire being to the scrutiny of the Almighty. And we need to, too.
So what happens?
Removing Hidden Debris
Just as the machinery cleared away the debris from our site, if we invite Him to, Holy Spirit will seek to remove hidden sins and unhealthy patterns from our lives, restoring the purity of our hearts.
Through divine excavation, the foundations of our faith are reinforced, helping us build a solid, unshakable relationship with God.
Excavation isn't only for removing the old and making space. As an archaeologist discovers treasures through careful excavation, Holy Spirit will reveal hidden gems of wisdom, revelation, and understanding that God has stored within us.
Letting God get to work in our lives and taking out anything which doesn't align with His best for us cultivates holiness, enabling us to bear the fruit of the Spirit and reflect God's character more fully.
And how do we embrace this process of excavation?
Just as an excavator is guided by a skilled operator, we must surrender control to Holy Spirit, allowing Him to work in our hearts and unearth what needs to be removed.
Trusting the Master Excavator
Holy Spirit is the Master Excavator who knows exactly where to dig and what to excavate. We can trust Him. We can trust His timing, we can trust the pace with which He unearths that which needs examining, we can trust His love for us, and we can trust that even if the process is painful and hard, it will lead to life, freedom, and fruitfulness.
Walking the Way Everlasting
The psalmist's plea in Psalm 139 echoes our desire to be led in the "way everlasting." As we allow Holy Spirit to excavate and cleanse, we are directed toward a path of eternal significance. This work is mighty and meaty. And it's for our good.
I don't know what lies in the depths of your heart and soul, but I know that our good Father does. And I also know that you can trust Him as you pray the bold prayer to invite Him to examine you fully.
It'll be worth it. As we allow Him to excavate of our hearts, we will be purified, restored, and guided toward greater freedom and hope. Let's be a people who embrace excavation, and journey toward a life of integrity, reflecting God's image more brightly and experiencing the fullness of His love and grace.
He is so for you.
So am I.