There was a time as a young Christian, I would have argued with you about the purpose of trials. I believed if you were living according to the Word, nothing bad could happen to you. This thinking was naïve at best. I was young and foolish and indoctrinated with something that would not weather the test of time.

I thought the teaching was deep when in reality, it only prepared me for life in the shallows. And I knew I didn’t want to stay there. If you are anything like me, you want to experience all that God has for you—and that means leaving the shallows and getting deeply rooted in God’s Word.

Everything we need for life and godliness is truly found in the Word of God, but it is the trials of life that drive us to our knees so that this truth can be worked in and through our lives. In this posture, the Word of God is no longer read as suggestions for life’s best practices but as the very words of life.

It was a short and confusing season in my life, mainly because I preferred pretending and burying things. I was young and newly saved and newly married and the turning of my soil had yet to begin. There were just a few scratches on the surface. I remember when it all changed. I was deep into a time of intimate worship and prayer. I foolishly imagined that because I was sitting in the front row of a church as a newly minted pastor’s wife that only a few things needed to be addressed in my life. In full confidence, I invited God to excavate my life. Twenty-four hours hadn’t passed before I was regretting my choice of words.

Dear Heavenly Father…did I say excavate? Can I take it back? That was but a passionate moment filled with poor word choices. What I meant to say was landscape and accessorize my life.

He did not allow the retraction. He wanted to do something deeper in my life, and excavation had been a Spirit-led word choice. To excavate means “to dig out and remove.” When I asked God to excavate my heart, it was like I handed Him a shovel, and asked him to dig out and remove anything in there that doesn’t belong. Like so many Christians, I lived with deep longings and shallow prayers.

Before this dangerous moment in worship, my prayer times had left me feeling empty. The words I whispered were not a catalyst in my life, because I was still praying out of duty rather than devotion. I prayed how I had heard others pray. Yes, I had been told that prayer was simply talking to God, but I couldn’t help imagining myself in a throne room surrounded by angelic beings who listened in and found my puny words ridiculous.

Because of this mindset, I didn’t know how to frame my prayers with words that could harness the tempest of raw desperation raging within me. Neither did I know what to do with my desperate, aching hunger for something more.

Since then, I have learned that God will use trials to deepen my prayers. Before I gave God permission to (cringe) excavate my life, I didn’t know how to allow God to work something deeper within me. Any difficulty or trial was immediately bound! Rather than assail the trial, I was binding myself to my old habit patterns and captivity. If they persisted, I ran. If running didn’t work, then I hid in the hope of wishing them away.

The irony is that it was these very trials that God used to mature and grow me up in my faith. Hardships have the power to transform us from who we are into who we long to be. So, don’t run from them. Embrace them, and press into how God may be excavating the soil of your heart through them.

Dear one, don’t be afraid of the deep work God wants to do in your heart. It may not always be pleasant, but in the end, it will always be worth it. God is standing by with a shovel in hand. If you want to stop playing around on the surface and let Him birth a lasting change in the depths of who you are, give Him permission to start digging…and then brace yourself.