I had to say goodbye to someone I love the other day. My heart is broken. She decided to toss everything aside and go back to the lifestyle she worked so hard to escape. So many have poured themselves out for her – with prayer, money, time, a listening ear – and are shocked by her decision.

The first time she went to rehab she remarked, “I don’t really feel like I’ve hit bottom yet. I’m still having fun.”

A wise friend who had been there before replied, “You’re bottom is wherever you choose to stop digging. The longer you dig, the deeper you’ll get and the longer it will take to get out.”

It made sense at the moment, but soon she was back out, delving deeper into sin. This time when she came back, it really looked like she was going to make it. She faced consequences, paid off debt, worked to re-establish relationships, held down a job. But when she hit a bump, she went back to digging.

All who love her stand at the edge of the pit, begging her to stop; we try to help. For every shovelful of dirt she tosses out, we grab a handful and throw it back in. But until she’s willing to stop digging, we cannot stop her descent.

If that was the end of the story, it would be tragic indeed. But Jesus calls to her as well. And He has a backhoe. As soon as she’s ready to get out, He will fill in that pit with giant scoops of love and grace. As much as she will allow.

The same is true for each of us. It’s only when we hit bottom in our pursuit of self and recognize what a mess we’ve made that God can help us out. Even though I made that choice years ago, I still find myself with a shovel in my hand from time to time.

When I stand in the way, trying to fix things by my own efforts, God can only dribble small portions around the edges of my heart. But when I lay my shovel down, He has the freedom to fill me up again.

If someone you love is digging deeper into the pit, I feel your pain. You’ve been frantically throwing in handfuls of dirt, begging them to let you help. It seems like insanity to leave them there. But if we stand in God’s way, He cannot help them as He would like. They need to see His face and reach out for Him. Once they do, we can cheer them on.

If you are the one in the pit today, I want to encourage you to stop digging and look up. No matter how deep you are Jesus can get you out of that dark and lonely place. All you have to do is trust Him. Just look up.