Dry and Desperate

Do you ever feel tired, worn out, dry spiritually? I do. To be honest, I’m feeling a little dry as I type this. There’s nothing dramatic going on; in fact, life is good and full. And yet, I realized this week, that I am kind of drained, and I have started to drift, ever so slowly. You probably wouldn’t notice a thing, but for me, I can already tell a difference. I can hear Him calling my name, beckoning me to spend time with Him, amidst all the noise and chaos of this busy time of year.

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The longer we walk with the Lord, the more ups and downs we experience. Some will be caused by external circumstances, such as tragedy or disappointments, but other times, we find ourselves just drifting away from our Father. It doesn’t have to be a sin issue, although sin definitely puts up barriers in our relationship. Sometimes it can be as simple as busyness, taking our eyes off Him, or trying to do things in our flesh, instead of depending on Him.

Last week, I shared how our loneliness and heartaches can lead to such an intimacy with Him. Sometimes in seasons of blessings it becomes harder to keep that same level of intimacy. Isn’t it ironic? But, once we have tasted a closeness with the LORD God Almighty, nothing else will compare. And after a short time without that intimacy, we will experience an ache in our hearts that only He can fill.

One of my favorite passages of Scripture comes from Exodus 33:12-23. Right before this in Exodus 32, the Israelites messed up big time. While Moses was up on Mt. Sinai receiving the Law from God, the Israelites were down at the camp worshipping a golden calf. If you’ve read the story, you know there were serious consequences. At the beginning of chapter 33, the LORD tells Moses to leave Mt. Sinai and take the people up to the Promised Land. But there’s a catch. The LORD would not go with them. Basically, God was going to follow through with His promise and give them this great land of milk and honey, but He wouldn’t be there. I just love how Moses responds to the LORD in verse 15 (NIV),

If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.

Do you see that? Moses didn’t care about the promise if He didn’t have the LORD with Him. He would rather stay with God in the wilderness than go to the promised land without Him. Can the same be said for us? Would we rather stay in an uncomfortable place with the LORD than go to a land of blessing without Him?

And what’s so cool is that we as New Testament believers HAVE the presence of the living God inside of us through His Holy Spirit. He is with us wherever we go, but we still must choose to nurture the relationship with Him.

Oh, that we would be a people who desire the Lord and not just his blessings. May our hearts break when we realize that we have drifted from Him. May we refuse to move forward when He is not leading us. Perhaps the secret to an intimate relationship with God is being desperate for Him above all else, being willing to sit still at His feet when He calls. And when we humble ourselves and seek Him above all else, even above the good things, we better get ready. The rain’s coming.

Natalie

Beauty in the Loneliness

At the end of this post, I asked what we should do if we don’t have encouragers around us. But since then, I realized I left out something so important. What should we do when people AREN’T encouraging? When people are flat out DISCOURAGING? When those who should be supporting us aren’t, when we feel left out in the middle of nowhere to sink or swim? When people we respect tell us we cant or shouldn’t follow through with what the LORD has called us to do?

No matter how many wonderful people are around us doing cartwheels and cheering us on, at some point we will face naysayers and others who fall away when we need them most. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, people will let us down. They are human after all. And so are we for that matter! I know I have let people down plenty of times. If we rely solely on the encouragement and support of others to keep us going, we won’t be going far.

The apostle Paul experienced  a lack of support in the worst way. In 2 Timothy 4:16, he says,

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me… (NIV).

There may come a point where we are stripped down, left alone with no one by our sides. Yet we still have the only encouragement that matters, from the one who made us and called us in the first place. Look what Paul says in verse 17 of that same passage

But the LORD stood at my side and gave me strength… (NIV).

Sometimes God takes away people we depend on to force us to rely on Him, to show us that He alone is the source of our strength.

Maybe you won’t get to the point of Paul where you are writing from a prison cell, deserted by many in your time of need, but I would bet that at some point most of us will be let down by others, possibly abandoned when we need them most. I can’t think of anything more discouraging. It may be heartbreaking to get to that place, but there is such beauty in the intimacy, just you and the LORD, pressing on together, whatever the circumstances.

And then, when you do the thing He has called you to do, when you stick it out, wherever He has placed you, no one else will get glory but Him. And you will look back with sweet tears in your eyes and say WOW, look how my God came through when everyone else had left me. Look how He carried me when I was all alone. Look what He did when others said it couldn’t be done. And your heart will about burst with your love for Him. The loneliest times in your life will become some of the most beautiful.

I’d say that is worth the discouragement, the heartache, the waiting, the anxiety, every last ounce of disappointment.

Hang in there. He won’t let you down.

Natalie