Have you ever felt spiritually parched, or numb? How long had the situation existed before you were able to identify it? You probably don’t have a good handle on that second question, because spiritual drought is usually something we walk into slowly. It’s not like breaking out onto the desert from a verdant forest, but more like going from the tropics to a forest, to a field, then to rocks, then hot, sandy hills with snakes and scorpions. There are lots of places to stop and even turn back on the trail, but we become comfortable with our surroundings, and forget to check our compass.
In Idaho, we had about 2 hours of sunshine today, the first in at least 4 days. It took a lot of work for the sun to force its way through the mass of gray that has owned the Northwest for most of a week. They are calling it an Atmospheric River. I welcomed the warmth, but had been praying thankfully about the rain for the whole time I was stuck in our house. It wasn’t just a little rain, either. It poured constantly. Being in the high mountains, we have not flooded, but some lower areas have.
The western portion of the United States has been in drought for many years now, with forest fires and stunted vegetable growth, as well as our beautiful evergreen trees dying all around us, slowly shedding pine needles all year, leaving huge piles of fire-starter beneath them. The floor of the forests are all tinder dry, so it doesn’t take much for a massive blaze to wipe out so much beauty. On top of that, we had an invasion of locust this summer, driving cattle from decimated fields, and eating our vegie gardens down to the nub. Our lakes were infested with algae growth from the heat, too.
So much devastation occurs when drought lingers. That’s why I have been so thankful for the rain. Cool, fresh, living water driving out the locust, sustaining the trees – our shade, and filling a very dry earth that was tired and stressed.
Prayer and time in God’s Word are the shade and water that keep us from spiritual drought.
I have seen some incredibly difficult circumstances catapult someone into such a state, but most of us go willingly; in fact, we help it along. We are busy. We are distracted. We put our job, or family, or fun, or phone (or whatever – fill in the blank) ahead of our relationship with God. But we usually do that slowly, just a bit at a time, and telling ourselves that we’ll get back on the trail tomorrow.
Pretty soon we are hip deep in brush and can’t see the trail, or parched from walking in the heat, and beginning to feel faint. Sometimes we faint and drop before we realize where we’ve gotten ourselves. I’ve certainly been there. Interestingly, we can easily look up and get mad at God when this happens. The mirror can be harsh, so we avoid it.
Jesus never fainted. He gave everything He had, but never dropped out…never quit. He held His own all the way to the cross. His habits of quiet time and prayer, pursuing a deep understanding of God’s Word, obedience, and refusing to be overwhelmed or rushed kept Him ready to give to the community around Him what was theirs, without letting them take what was not. He recognized distractions or misdirection, and dealt with them quickly, moving on with His Mission.
His disciples grew tired in prayer, so weren’t ready for the intense trial that was right around the corner. Some fell, others wandered around confused. But Jesus did come back to rescue them, to renew them, and to set them on a better path.
It occurred to me today that Jesus is our Atmospheric River. There is more than enough refreshing for everyone. He can come and take away our spiritual drought, and sooth us when we are tired and stressed.
But, there is a better way – we could choose not to leave the stream. We could plant ourselves by the living water so it flows next to us all the time. We could set time aside for God every day, and let Holy Spirit be our compass, guiding us through the hard stuff, keeping us from distraction, or misdirection. I want to do better at that. I want to be a person who dwells with God, instead of visiting occasionally, or wandering off and then screaming for a rescue, which would certainly come. God will not forsake us.
I would rather have a house by a stream, than a cave in the desert, waiting for a flood. I would rather have living water, than an atmospheric river that comes only rarely after much hardship.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit. NKJV
Let’s choose to plant ourselves by the river, to be filled with hope, trusting and well fed, and then able to feed others. Let’s be life-long friends of Jesus, not visitors.
October 27, 2021