Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
Supposedly, King George III made a comment in his diary on July 4, 1776. He is purported to have written, “Nothing significant happened today.” (OK, I first heard of this on an old episode of The X-Files. But I did some research and there is some credence of its validity). Regardless, if King George III actually wrote this, he had it wrong. Across the sea in Philadelphia, something significant did happen that day. The event of signing the Declaration of Independence changed the course of history for the United States and for England as well.
Lately, I feel a little like King George. It’s strange, but I go through my days, and if anyone asks me how my day went, all I can think of is “nothing significant happened today.” The strange thing is that things aren’t going too bad for me at the moment. Most of my lunch hour at the ministry is spent reading and studying the Word. On Saturday and Sunday, I have an extended time with the Lord for about two hours that I really love. I am praying more than I used to and I try to keep my heart right before the Lord. And I’m seeking to be a person of good character and to love those around me. Sounds like I’ve finally made it, huh? No. No Christ follower ever really “makes it,” at least not while we are here in this world.
Yet, while all this good spiritual activity is going on, I have this dryness and emptiness within that I am struggling with. I pray for God to reveal Himself in His Word, and I keep on praying even when it seems like my prayers go nowhere. But for the most part, it’s dry and empty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not seeking some ecstatic experience or some great emotional feeling. But I have this yearning have God speak to me and allow me to just sit at His feet and learn of Him. Personally, I think I can thank the Lord for using Regeneration to change that in my life.
So, all this makes me wonder, what’s going on? Am I out of Sync? Is there some sin that I’m not aware of that I need to confess? (My habit of late is that whenever I realize I might be in sin, I confess it immediately). So, just what does one do in times of dryness desert experiences like this?
I just have a few thoughts about desert or dry times that I’d like to share. The first thing is that the Christian life is a life of faith. If you are a true follower of Christ you started, by grace, through Faith (Ephesians 2:7-8). And we need to live our life, day by day, by grace and in faith. It is written in God’s Word that the just shall live by faith. So, my thought here is that whether our times with God are what we would like or not, we need to continue in faith and leave the results to God. When we pray, we need to pray by faith. I’ve had to learn to ignore how I feel about things and pray in faith. I truly believe that when we pray when it is the last thing we want to do, that God takes those prayers and uses them mightily. Why, perhaps it’s because in those times that we are truly praying by faith.
My second thought is that God always has a reason for what he does. You all know about Moses’ 40-year desert experience. Going out every day and sitting around with a bunch of sheep has to wear on you after a while. Going to visit the desert is OK, but the thing is not to live there. Don’t just pitch your tent and have mutton for dinner. The time in the desert may last only a few days or it may last longer. But the thing we need to do is to trust God by faith that He has a reason for this desert time and to trust Him to bring us out of it. I told someone the other day that I think some of the dry and desert things in my life lately are because God wants to break me of my pride, stubbornness and to soften my heart. I truly believe that. Desert times can be some of our best times of learning from God, even when we don’t feel like it.
Third, don’t let situations, circumstances or satan (I used a small s on purpose) dictate our reaction to the desert. Our God is above and beyond all circumstances or situations. There are things that can be learned in the desert that we can’t learn anywhere else. At least Moses learned how to take care of sheep. Metaphorically, we can learn how to take care of others in the desert. I described my current times with the Lord in a paragraph above. I mentioned things like struggle and listed a lot of questions that I have been asking myself. But notice I never said any of this is bad. Even in the desert I do find little gems here and there that God does to let me know He is right here with me.
One of the small things that He did happened yesterday at work. I was working this rather large list of friends of our ministry that I needed to contact. I had been having computer problems (later to learn they were self-imposed) and just couldn’t get the computer to do what it was supposed to on a case I was working on. I almost told myself it is not worth spending all this time just to send an email out to this one person. Finally, I did a “work-around” just to get my email out. Rather disgusted, my thought was, “well that’s finally done, but what good it will do (ok, negativity).” Soon after I sent the email, I noticed a return email came into my inbox. I opened it, and realized it was from the person I was having all the system problems with. They thanked me profusely for writing them and shared a prayer request with me. I responded by thanking them for responding and assured them that I would pray for them. That was cause for another response of more thanks. I wonder as I write this, if the enemy wasn’t causing all my self-imposed computer problems just to keep me from touching base with this person who need prayer and to be encouraged.
Remember, Jesus said he was “the Good Shepard.” He goes after one lost sheep and brings him back into the fold. We never know why things happen like they do. We only see glimpses of it, but the Christian life is truly lived on a spiritual plain. The desert too, can be a spiritual plain for us.
So, that’s it. I’m still somewhat in the desert. But I’m not complaining about it. It’s dry, hot and somewhat uncomfortable. But I’m thankful that God seems to be teaching me not to question and complain so much and just trust Him. That’s not as easy as I just made that sound, by the way. I question and complain a lot. But at least now God is bringing that to mind and allowing me to confess it when necessary.
I don’t know how you respond to desert experiences. But I pray you just endure and hang on to God’s Word and see Him work. I pray this is meaningful to you in some small way. May God just strengthen us and allow us to see that He is still in charge of both the small and big things in our lives. Enjoy the desert!!