"Seest thou a man diligent in his business?
he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men."
Do you see anything special about this picture?
"Uh... it's just a little narrow stream," you might be thinking.
Yes, but it's no ordinary stream. This is an irrigation ditch, built in the late 1800s by a man named Benjamin Harrison Eaton. This ditch is 4 miles long, and it brought irrigation to his land, which was right here where I walk every day.
Can you imagine building a 4-mile-long ditch?
Consider the diligence that would take. It takes me an hour just to walk the distance of 4 miles. How long would it take to dig this out? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? I have no idea. Somehow, Mr. Eaton was able to construct this ditch while also farming during the summer and teaching school during the winter. How do you do something like that? Just farming alone is a full-time occupation. He had 25,000 acres of land! How in the world could one guy farm all that, let alone find time to dig a ditch in his spare time?
Ditch digging is hot, sweaty, demeaning work. Not many people like to do it. We classify "ditch digger" as the epitome of lowly work, akin to slave labor.
But Eaton didn't see it like that. He had a vision. He saw the benefit to his land from the irrigation that he was preparing. He looked down the road and saw what a great reward he would reap from the investment of his time and effort. So he approached the task with diligence and accomplished it.
A short biography from the Colorado State Archives website reveals that Eaton had more than his fair share of trouble and hardship. His wife died in childbirth just one year after they were married. He was unsuccessful in an attempt to find gold. He roamed over the west and fought in the Civil War. But none of these things daunted him.
So we find him in 1866, buying this farm and digging this ditch. At the time, it probably seemed to him like no one but him would ever care or remember.
But Proverbs tells us that kind of diligence will not go unrewarded.
Is it any coincidence that 18 years later, he became the governor of the state of Colorado? In 1884, he was elected, and he served until 1887. This many years later, we still remember his accomplishments. A sign is posted by his ditch, commemorating his efforts. His stained glass portrait decorates the state's capitol dome. Northern Colorado gratefully acknowledges their thriving sugar beet industry to his irrigation contributions. And one humble blogger is inspired by the diligence that his life displayed.
May our lives be a striking illustration, inspiring others to levels of service beyond their previous levels of expectation. May the grace of God in our lives enable us to live the impossible life with diligence, dedication, and givenness, for the glory of God.