I’m going to be transparent with you, lately I feel like I’ve been in a spiritual desert. I’ve had these seasons before but this one seems particularly dry.
As I was reading back through some of my past blog posts of things the Lord has shown me, a couple points really stood out to me. First was from the post Where the Spirit Leads, and the fact that the Spirit does indeed lead us into the wilderness sometimes but it’s always with our good in mind. When the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness it was with full awareness that He would be tempted by the devil, but that it would be used to equip and strengthen Jesus as He was about to begin His ministry. (Luke 4)
As much as it feels better to think that God would never lead me somewhere knowing I will be anywhere near the devil and a place for him to tempt me, it really has its refining purpose and I need to trust and take God at His word that He is working ALL things for my good, resisting the devil and his temptations knowing he will flee. (Romans 8:28; James 4:7)
The second point was from the post Trials. Temptations. Does God give us more than we can handle? And the sweet remembrance of the truth that yes, we absolutely go through life not being able to handle much if anything. However, that the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us gives us the power and ability to resist temptation and He provides a way of escape from every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). The real question is whether we decide to listen and obey or quench Him.
What about you? Does life feel like a wilderness or desert for you right now? What are you doing to get through it?
I have learned in the past that the only way to get through a desert is to get drenched in the water of the Word, even if it seems like a mirage, it IS going to accomplish God’s goal in its going out. It may not feel like it’s quenching that thirst in the dryness, but if the word is cut out entirely, true spiritual dehydration will set in and that is way worse!
Having neurological conditions that cause my nerves to send and receive signals incorrectly, I have learned not to trust my feelings. I have to look beyond pain to know if I am experiencing something that needs immediate medical intervention or if it’s just my feelings interpreting the wrong information. On this same principle, we cannot trust our emotions or feelings of whether or not we feel close to God and interpret that as reality. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”(Jeremiah 17:9).
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you cannot be any closer to God on this earth than Him dwelling inside of you, but you can feel closer or farther at times. If you spend all your time chasing the feeling of being close to God, you’ll end up lacking in depth of relationship. Take a marriage or parent-child relationship for example. You love your spouse/parent/child regardless of whether you’re happy, sad, angry, hurt. Nothing changes your love for them, but a lot of things can change your feelings and emotions at any moment in time. If you based your closeness with them on whether you felt the feeling of love like when you give a great big hug, you’d likely conclude you aren’t in a close relationship, and you’d be right if that was the only thing you’re seeking to be fulfilled in. However, you know that closeness is found in the fact that you’re in the relationship and spend quality time together.
In the same way, because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we have been brought into that perfect union shared between Father, Son, and Spirit. We don’t need to feel close to be close, we just need to spend quality time together with God, being still before Him and being surrendered to let Him do His work in us.
We were made with emotions, they’re not inherently bad, but they’re not supreme or to be the basis of our relationship because we know our hearts are deceitful. If we just keep pressing in, being faithful and fervent to spend quality time with our Savior, we will eventually leave the season of desert and enter a new season. Those seasons of rainforest, where you always feel drenched with God and can feel Him in a strong way are blessings in those moments. But don’t get caught up in trying to savor old blessings or turn away from seeking Him. He has new blessings for us, we just need to keep looking forward and run our race through whatever spiritual terrain we find ourselves in and He will bestow them upon us in His timing and way. Jeremiah 17 goes on to say in verse 13, “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be put to shame; those who turn away from You shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.”
I’ll leave you with a verse that is a comfort to me during dry seasons and I hope it encourages you:
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herds in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)