I have had my dry times–spiritually speaking–where it seems as though I am crawling through molasses. Have you ever experienced that? Everything is just as it always is and I then begin to sense the growing barrenness in my life. That old feeling of walking alone and out of sync with the flow. Everyone else seems to be alive and excited to be serving God but for some reason, I feel blah spiritually!Those times have been too often and frankly I do not like being there. It is a pathway that is weighty and bordering on sorrow and dare I say depression?
I have never been in a sand dessert but for a time I did live in the northern part of New Mexico. It is not quite the same but there are some similarities with the hot dry, summers. In a sand desert, there is some life but not a bustling flurry of activity as in a thriving forest. It is simply too hot and dry.This ugly cactus plant of mine is rather similar to the plants that grow in the desert. It tends to thrive on very little water and it is so ugly that I almost wish it would die so I could get rid of it. I think it is about 45 years old and as you can see it doesn’t get huge. What grows (very slowly I might add) are these ugly long fronds or whatever you call them with their prickly little edges (although not like the usual cacti with its thorns.) It sits rather lopsided in my pot and obstructs my husbands view of the television if I don’t turn it around the other way.
My dry times can be just like that old cactus, dry, barren, lonely and fruitless. It really is a terrible place to be. I am not even nice to be around because I have no joy, motivation or energy. I just want to hang it up. Interestingly, it even causes those that I am around to get cranky, like my husband. My hard places don’t just effect me, they also have an impact on those around me. My co-workers know when Kimberly Dawn is going through rough times because I am usually a pretty joy-filled person. (Praise God!) But not with the weight of the world on my shoulders, pressing me down! Or a mind preoccupied with relationships gone awry.
However, it is in these valleys where my sorrow is caused by my own poor choices. If you are a relational person like me, you know how important people are in your life, you need them to interact with and fellowship with and just to enjoy life with. Thank you Lord for creating fellowship with one another. But then a quirky communication takes place and an offense comes along and suddenly the joy has been robbed. I have reacted by making provision for the flesh, and harbor bitterness or jealousy in my heart and wham, down I go and it is time to linger in the desert for a few rounds about the mountain. My thoughts are possessed with wrong thinking. My reactions are very “me” centered around all my thoughts and hurt feelings. Woe is me, they don’t understand, what about my feelings on the issue and don’t I have a “right” to feel the way I do? Just look how they have hurt me! It is amazing what we will try to justify!
When I go to bed at night, I want sweet thoughts and pleasurable memories of my day or week. I want to reflect on the goodness of the Lord and to be able to see His hand in motion throughout my day. If I am in the midst of a desert experience I can’t see any of that, just poor, miserable me. If I dwell too long in that place I become dryer, harder and more and more lifeless and bitter in my own defense. What an icky place to be!
How in the world do I come to an end of my desert journey? Thanks be to God for the power of the Holy Spirit in spite of quenching His Spirit with my “me-ness” mentality. Something jogs my heart and I begin to see that I am the problem not the other party. I’m the one who is holding on to the bitterness, unforgiveness, anger and resentment because all I can see is how mistreated I have been. God’s Word has sooo…much to say about the above list of excuses we use to stay in our desert-land:
This Scripture from Matthew 5:23,24 really sheds a spotlight on relational issues out of sync:
So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.
I am believing that my offering to God is not going to amount to anything with resentment at the root of my heart. And I have worshiped and wondered why I couldn’t sense His presence and wondered why He seemed so distant from me.
From Romans 13:14 Paul tells,
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
And this includes along with all sorts of immoralities, strife and envy. And once again from Mark 12:25
But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.
You have to admit that forgiveness is a huge issue in God’s eyes. I guess that means that I better make it a priority also. God says 7 times 70 and that if I cannot forgive then I too will not be forgiven. God forbid I don’t get a grasp on this one! So, what is my excuse now? Can I really justify my situation any longer? I don’t think so! Okay Holy Spirit, show me how to get myself to the watering hole ’cause I am so parched and desperately longing for Your presence once again.
You see, with enough sunlight and just the right amount of water, that ugly old cactus does an amazing thing every once in a while. It unpredictably blooms. Sometimes only one or two but these huge gorgeous blooms come out of the most unlikely places. And like that blooming cactus, I too need adequate time in the “Son” so that I can produce fruit that will please my Father and bless others.
How’s your heart today? Are you filled with bitterness and anger? Unforgiveness and resentments? The Lord would have us walking in the fruit of the Spirit which is right where I need to be so I want will exhibit those attributes toward others. It is through a victorious life that this fruit grows and is used to show others the love of Christ.
But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.
Father, will You show me my unpleasantness and its root? I don’t want to be there anymore. I want the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in my life so that when others look at my life they see You. Help me to root out all the negative things like anger, resentment, bitterness, envy and strife those things that keep me in bondage. Set me free and even if I need to go to someone for forgiveness will You give me the grace to humble myself and approach that one so that we might be restored to fellowship with one another and with You? I trust that You will work out all the details of this in my life and that You will receive all the glory, honor and praise due Your Name. I will lean on Your promises and trust this to be resolved in Your perfect timing. Restore me Lord to Your presence and fill me with Your sweet Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ Name, Amen