Saturday, October 8, 2011

Spiritual Dryness in The Quiet Place

There are times in each of our lives when our heart and soul can feel much like a dry barren desert. Our time of spiritual devotions can feel empty of fresh joyous vitality. 

We may have exhausted easily accessible inner resources due to any number of life related influences, and are becoming burned out. Spiritual and emotional burnout is not as uncommon as we would think. It is a condition that most of us would rather not acknowledge that we experience from time to time. For some reason it feels like we failed at something.  

It often happens gradually in our lives, and like a slow fading shadow at sunset, before we realize it, our zeal, inner passion, and sense of spiritual power is but a whisper of what it had been. 

When we reach deep within to seek God, or to find resources to cope with a trying set of stressful circumstances, our hands find only desert sand. 

Spiritual Dryness in the Desert

There was a time when David's life was full of hurt, confusion and doubt. His understanding of God's Purpose for his life, and how it played out in his daily experience, were hard to bring together. 

We can all face that puzzling sense of incongruity when what we understand to be God's Will for us, and what we are experiencing in our present circumstances, seem to be polar opposites.  

For David, it made no sense that God could promise one thing, that he would be the King of Israel,  and yet here he was hiding from King Saul, and fleeing for his life in the dry barren Desert of Judah. Weary and worn out, he prayed:

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1; 6

We can come to The Quiet Place to commune with God to satisfy our thirst and at times discover that our experience there has seemed unsatisfying, and we leave discovering that our throat is still parched and dry. 

We can be inundated with Bible resources, solid teaching, and worshipful music, but find that we are merely treading water of late in terms of our experience and enjoyment of God. We can be up, we can feel down, we can feel joy and then we can drift into a kind of apathy.

The experience of revival, and times of spiritual renewal, are wonderful, joyous, and sometimes overflow with euphoric emotion. However, God also wants to know if we can walk by faith, and not by mere feelings.... Even in the backside of a personal desert.

The Lure of a Mirage in the Desert

If we are not careful, we can equate a kind of "feeling" to be the compass of our spirituality. To follow a compass that has no True North, is like following a GPS that is locked into coordinates that are constantly moving, shifting location, and leading to one dead-end after another. It is in the pursuit of the lure of a mirage, that leads to disappointment and despair(See Jeremiah 2:13).

David himself cried out to God while in the desert,
“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold.... I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.”   Psalm 69:1-4

David was reminded every day, that any living thing that has no regular water source, can literally wither and die in the desert. It was also a stark reality for him. He was alone, afraid, and had nothing but God Himself to sustain him. He used a metaphor describing a deer experiencing a literal thirst for water, with his spiritual thirst for God. 

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long. “Where is your God?”  Psalm 42:1-3 

When was the last time that I thirsted for God with such desperation  and intensity?

 The Reasons for Spiritual Dryness

The experience of spiritual dryness happen to all of us at times, and there are several factors that may contribute:

  • It may be the result of missing out on our times of worship in The Quiet Place. 

  • .        Living too long on the milk of God’s Word and not getting into the meat and depth of Bible study, so as to discern how to deal with the tougher trials that may be happening.

  • .        It may be because of an illness, and the medications that sometimes blunt the physical and emotional edge in our lives. 

  • .        Long seasons of depression and medications to treat it can mimic a sense of spiritual apathy.

  • .        It can be the result of resisting God’s Will to be Lord in our lives, and then avoiding time with Him.

  •       Engaging in sinfulness, and refusing to repent and change, dims the passion of our heart for God.

  • .        Feeling angry or hurt by God, believing that He should grant something, and withdrawing from Him as a result.

  • .        Prolonged periods of trial, suffering and intense ministry can result in spiritual burnout.

  • .        Being tested by God to live by the truth of His Word, and exercise faith, even when our feelings do not experience joy and peace when we are walking in fellowship with God.

  •       Going through a time of pruning in our life whereby God shapes our heart so that our abiding in Him can be fruitful and unhindered.  

Spiritual Balance in the Desert
God's Word assures us that if we Draw near to Him, He will Draw near to us (See Hebrews 7:19-20; 24-26; James 4:8). Paul reminds us that the natural man does not discern Truth in the way that the spiritual man does. His use of the word, pneumatikos in I Cor. 2:15, for the word "...he that is spiritual.." is translated as: " who is governed by, or under the rule of  the Spirit of God." Vines NT Greek.

     It takes spiritual insight to discover that we can go through the desert, and feel that God is distant, not know why, but still hold on to God's Word, and the assurance of His promise. His Word reminds us that He will  never leave us, and that He will always keep us ever near His heart, even if we don't always feel that He is there (See Hebrews 13:5; Matt. 28:20 "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.").

     "The unfolding of your words gives light;  it gives understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.”  Psalm 119:130-131

 In The Quiet Place there is an Honesty with God

     "You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.”  Psalm 139:1-3

      In The Quiet Place there is an Openness with God

     "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:22-24

     In The Quiet Place there is Healing from God

     "Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:12-14

     Within The Quiet Place God desires to commune with us, encourage us and strengthen us. Before long, a spark will alight in your heart, and then it will become a flame within. The reality of your living faith will create a miracle as God’s all encompassing love, pours out to you, comes alive in you, and then it will flow through you, to a dry and barren world. 

     Only God can quench the thirst of the human soul. The world is full of chaos, turmoil, political unrest and economic instability. Many people who sought for satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment in the world, have discovered that they are desperately empty, and have lost their way in the wilderness of life without God.. 

     The seasoned desert traveler can find these lost souls and lead them out of the desert to the true source of life…. Jesus Christ

"Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-9