Monday, September 29, 2008

At the Well - Spiritual Dryness

Have you ever noticed a pattern of when you find yourself spiritually dry?

Usually, I am not aware of any pattern when I slip into spiritual dryness. It is more like when I am busy working outdoors for several hours in the hot sun. I begin sweating like a pig, my tongue starts sticking to the roof of my mouth, my throat becomes dry and raspy, and I begin feeling ill. By that point I have gone past being thirsty; I am officially parched. The same is true when I am spiritually dry. I just keep going until I find myself in a crisis.
When it finally hits me, I know from Scripture what has happened:

For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
(Jeremiah 2:13)

Spiritual dryness tells me two things abou
t myself according to this verse:

  1. I have forsaken the Lord, the natural source of continual spiritual refreshment and
  2. I have used my own fleshly methods to seek refreshments which can never last
What does the Scripture mean by "living" waters? My trusty Webster's 1828 Dictionary of the English Language defines it this way: "Issuing continually from the earth; running; flowing. . ." The source is constantly renewing. It flows naturally without any human assistance or intervention.

Discovering a natural spring on a homestead property is like finding a gold mine. It means two things: no one has to go through the expense, labor, and risk of digging a well, and the chances of it going dry are nearly zero. It just makes sense to build the house
as near the spring as possible in order to access it easily.

Yet, families in the land of ancient Samaria didn’t have the convenience of a living spring across the drive from their houses. The women had to trek outside the city limits to access the only drinking water available for miles around. Apparently, it was quite a chore. Jesus once met a woman at one such well who was very interested in losing her job of fetching water. He made her an offer she couldn’t refuse:

. . .Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. (John 4:13-15) (Read the whole story in John 4:7-29.)

Reported to be the site of Jacob's well
where Jesus met the Samaritan woman.

A few chapters later, the Scripture tells us what Jesus revealed to her concerning that living water:

In the last day, that great day of the feast (Feast of Tabernacles), Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
(John 7:37-39 )

This begs the question, then, if this spring of the Spirit is ever flowing in the life of a believer, then how could we ever possibly be spiritually dry? As Jeremiah states in chapter two, verse thirteen, it’s because we have turned from Him and begun striving by our own efforts to quench our thirst with worldly things. However, the entertainments of the world just “don’t hold water.” Turning to them is like looking for water in a cistern that has cracks. Regardless of how often we seek to fill it, it continually drains dry.

So, then we come to Heather’s second question:

* What do you do to move quickly through that season of dryness?

Go to the source!

We must stop

  • walking in the counsel of the ungodly (psychiatrists and psychologists)
  • standing in the way of sinners (movie and television characters) and
  • sitting in the seat of the scornful (crass radio talk-show hosts)
When we reach that point of spiritual dearth, it’s time to
  • turn off the television
  • shut down the computer
  • close the novel or magazine
  • put away the hobby
  • re-cap the soda (or perhaps in some cases, the alcohol or "happy pill" bottle)
  • set aside the chocolate
  • get out of bed
And otherwise forsake the things which we think will bring us peace and refreshment.

Conversely, we must delight in the law of the LORD and meditate on it day and night. The passages mentioned above are a good start. Then move on to the Book of Psalms.

We must go to God in believing prayer: confession of sin, prayer for renewed strength from His Spirit, prayer for wisdom and discretion, and prayers of thanksgiving for all the wonderful things he has provided for life and godliness.

We must keep praying and reading by faith until the Lord pours out His precious Spirit upon our dry and thirsty souls.

Yet, though it is good to know where to turn in times of crisis, it is better for us to drink from that source on a continual basis. Several other bloggers at the well today have mentioned what all of us already know:

We must have a regular time set aside for intimate, personal worship and communion with God every day.

Our relationship with the Lord is compared to marriage. You know as well as I do that a couple who never spends both quality and quantity time together will eventually become estranged. If we have a living, breathing, vital relationship with Christ, we must nurture that relationship on a daily basis. That is the only way we can keep from slipping into those dreaded times of spiritual dryness.

. . . He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalm 1:3)