Do you go through dry times in your spiritual life? Some people seem to think that never happens to pastors or congregational leaders. Surely vocational Christian servants have a direct line to communion with God! Wrong…at least, wrong for this Christian leader.
I tried to decide how transparent I am willing to risk being as I share from my personal journal. Then I decided that if I speak about being authentic, I must be willing to risk transparent revelation of my own spiritual dilemma. So yes, I go through spiritual droughts; parched, dry times.
In those times, even when I keep reading Scripture, meditating, and crying out to God, I feel myself shut out from the warmth of relationship with God. I know that He is there, faithfully being who He has promised to be, doing what only God can do. But my eyes fail to catch the brilliance of His presence. My ears fail to hear the soft whisper of His caring voice.
When I go through times when the heavens are brass and my spirit cannot sense joyful intimacy with God, I feel the pain of Psalm 137:1-2, “Beside the rivers of Babylon we thought about Jerusalem, and we sat down and cried. We hung our small harps on the willow trees.” (CEV) In those times when I feel far away from God I can remember moments of close relationship, days when the Word jumped off the pages and into my spirit. But what I remember appears so far away and the current experience so barren that I feel like one in exile. In those moments I lay down my pen, as though never to take it up again – like the exiles who “hung their harps on the willow trees.”
The enemy influences our spirit, but God is always faithful and somehow we recall our history with God. Then as the fog gradually lifts, we can begin to “sing about the Lord in a foreign land.” Ps 137:4. Another Psalm, the 107th, reminds me of this act of remembering and responding to God’s faithfulness. There the following two statements are recorded four times each:
You were in serious trouble, but you prayed to the Lord, and he rescued you. (vs. 6,13,19,28)
You should praise the Lord for his love and for the wonderful things he does for all of us. (vs. 8,15,21,31)
We serve a God who turns rivers to deserts (at our disobedience) and deserts to lakes (at our right relationship), Psalm 107:33-35. God will return out joy when we obey; “You will see this because you obey the Lord…” Psalm 107:42. So we must be wise. When the dark days come and we pass through the desert of our spiritual experience, then we must remember the kindness of the Lord!