Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor
I hate cold weather. I don’t like snow, i can’t stand freezing wind, i hate just about everything about winter.
Now, i know, it never gets really cold here. I have a childhood friend who is crazy enough to live in Alaska. He posts Facebook pictures of his thermometer at -28 or some nonsense that in my mind says ‘i’m calling in sick today…and every day for the next three months.’
That’s just ‘Thursday’ up there…nothing out of the ordinary.
My wife, who used to brag about playing in icy cold West Virginia creeks when she was a kid, has succumbed to my cold weather complaining from November to February and has decided that she, now also hates the cold. (‘Mama’s come around to daddy’s way of thinkin’’ to rewrite the old country song.) We’re really making plans to retire to some coast somewhere—just to be warm year-round, walking the beach with a metal detector and trying not to get skin cancer.
But, as much as i hate the cold, as you know, the summers around here are just brutal.
June is bad, July is worse—bone dry, like opening the door to a pizza oven every time you go outside. Everyone kinda drags around, sweats and bears it best they can, knowing that at some point, usually in August, we get one day with a high under 90, and see a tiny sliver of the end in sight. Then we get ten more horrible days before the next reprieve. And right before you call the realtor to put the house on the market, September rolls around and we get one of those glorious days that makes you forget about how awful June, July and August were.
Ever go through a summer in your spiritual life?
Where you’re just not ‘in tune’ with the messages preached, the scriptures read, the songs sung—where it all just feels ‘dry’ for some reason. Where you want God to send some rain, or a bucket of ice water to splash you in the face, and He just…doesn’t.
For whatever reason, He doesn’t. Sometimes it’s self-inflicted, a secret sin that you’re trying to hide that keeps you at a distance from God. Other times you can’t pinpoint a reason, or a sin issue, but God just seems far away, and you’re stuck in the middle of a desert island with no refreshing coastline in sight.
King David went through those times, and thankfully for us, he wrote about them in the book of Psalms.
In Psalm 143 he says “I reach out for you. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens; don’t turn away from me or I shall die.” (ESV)
Yeah, sounds like David spent a summer in Texas, doesn’t it?
David doesn’t describe dryness, but distance from God in Psalm 13 this way:
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?”
So, this feeling we have from time to time is nothing new. David, described as ‘a man after God’s own heart’ felt this way, and wrote it down for all of us to share.
But the inverse is also true: Psalm 68:10 says “You sent abundant rain upon your land, O God, to refresh it in its weariness!” (The Living Bible)
In the Gospel of John in Chapter 7, Jesus knows that ‘dry spells’ are coming for his disciples. “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
So keep in mind, if you’re going through a spiritual summer right now, that drawing closer to Jesus is the answer. (If you read this blog often, or much time at spend time hanging around Stonepoint, you’re gonna discover that we believe that drawing closer to Jesus is the answer to everything.)
The problem for us is that there is no such thing as ‘Instant Godliness’ that we can pull off the shelf and mix up to quickly fix it all. It oftentimes takes work—time in the word, time in prayer, time with fellow believers who, believe me, have been through the same desert at some point in their lives, and would love to help you through it. That’s why we push community so hard here at Stonepoint—hard times, dry times are on the way—they’re part of life, and God never intended for us to go through this world without other people encouraging us and spurring us on.
Even in the drought, God is still who He says He is. There’s a cooling rain on the way, and everything after August is gonna be better…until the next summer comes along.
(And except for that stinkin’ Winter!)