As my past two posts dictate, I experienced a dry spell for the past two weeks or so. It was my fault, since if I had been faithful in reading God’s word and praying, I doubt that the dry spell would have been such a struggle. However, it has taught me several things and (I hope) strengthened my faith. Here are some lessons I learned:
- Read the Bible regularly
Seriously, if I had read the Bible everyday in the days before my dry spell, I could have let God save me a lot of doubt and worry.
- Pray (even when I don’t feel like it)
I read a great article today by Jefferson Bethke, the spoken-word Christian artist that gained widespread attention for his Jesus>Religion YouTube video. I could not have put what he said in better words:
D.A. Carson said sometimes when we don’t feel like praying we have to “pray ourselves into prayer.” I’m terrible at this one. Whenever I feel dry I have not one molecule in me that wants to pray. That should be the first indication that is when I need it most. Set a time and keep it. Be silent. Be still. Ask God to speak to you through His word. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it feels like He isn’t there. But sometimes He shows up when you least expect it.
- The period when I’m having a dry spell is when I should bring myself closer to my brothers and sisters, not push myself away from them
Last week, I had SAT tutoring at my church, and after the class waited there until nighttime for the weekly prayer meeting. I was having some emotional and theological turmoil going inside my mind, and felt that prayer with my brothers and sisters was the last thing I would do. Besides, since I’m so determined to continue in the sin that created the doubts, would my prayer amount to anything? I can’t believe I believed those lies. Joining the prayer meeting could have increased my faith and strengthened my relationship with God, saving me from a hard week of turmoil every day until the weekend. Again, Jefferson Bethke’s article spoke about keeping the church close:
Whenever we feel unloved by God, or like we have no “power or strength” from him our first inclination is to run. We feel dirty. We feel unwelcome. We feel unloved. We isolate and hide. The best thing we can do when that is happening is to intentionally surround ourselves with our brothers and sisters of the faith. They can pray for us. They can encourage us. They can share their similar stories. We are all in this together. Trying to weather a storm as a single tree will leave us completely shredded and uprooted. But if an entire forest is weathering the storm they all bend together and come back up together.
- Worship songs help. Especially hymns.
I think listening to the instrumental hymns (I couldn’t find any artists or choirs that did the songs justice), by the grace of God, helped keep me sane and kept the thought of returning to God close to my mind. There is such power in the old hymns that I rarely see in most worship songs today. Perhaps they were more scriptural or shaped by the deep truths preached during the times they were written, but whatever made them great, I appreciate it. Sometime music brings the comfort and order that we can’t get out of or don’t feel like getting from anything else.
- Be real, honest, and raw about how I feel
During my dry spell, I kept myself in denial. I (foolishly) believed that if I was in denial, I can be stuck in “limbo” about my conflict to remain a faithful Christian or to live in what I knew to be sin but refused to believe that it is so. I did some journaling about my struggle, and that helped, but I could have balanced my expression of my feelings to include more of why I felt in conflict with God’s word and my faith. Being real would have made me think more deliberately about the issue a hand, even if I don’t want to. Bethke notes something I often overlook:
We don’t need to always have a smile. We can cry. We can yell. We can be frustrated. And the best part of that is God actually wants us to cast all that stuff on Him (1st Peter 5:7).
- Run to God, even if it’s painful and the thing I least want to do.I really like the lyrics in Chris Rice’s song, “Come to Jesus”:
And like a newborn baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall…so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!
Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!
God is the only One who can do anything about my situation. Ultimately He draws me back to Him, so why don’t I save myself some trouble and go to Him first? Ask Him to lead me in this desert, maybe teach me some lessons, but remind me that He’s holding my hand.
- Remind myself that I know the truth
No matter what lies the enemy is feeding me, God has already told me the truth in His Word. I just need to believe it in my heart.
- I am a child of God. He’s already won.
How often do I forget that God has already defeated the enemy, and that all I need to do is acknowledge His victory and rest in His promises of protecting me as His child.
Doing these things next time probably would not see me dragging through the hot, scorching sand, but consistently pressing on with the grace of God.
What helps you through your deserts and valleys?