"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dry Seasons

When seasons of drought come upon us, our bodies and souls cry out for relief. We long to know that God has not abandoned us. We seek reasons for the dry seasons that come upon us without explanation.

Seasons of plenty, from our point of view, do not require much explanation. We seem to see them as our due. At the very least, we see them as what God does. God is good and benevolent and delights in blessing people, so it is natural that seasons of lush greenery and plentiful fruit should come upon us. Who would question such a thing? Well, maybe we should. Such seasons are actually NOT our due. If Isaiah of Old and more recent Paul are correct, no one seeks after God, and all fall short of his glory. What we deserve is not blessing, but its radical opposite. Seasons of blessing are actually what we should question, but do not. At times, I fear we are like tourists who have grown accustomed to first class treatment on our cruise, and now have found reason to complain about the melting ice in our water pitchers. We feel entitled to heaven on earth when we do not even deserve earth.

So, by contrast, dry seasons leave us challenged beyond our resources. Facing the raw realities that life is sometimes cruel, and bad things happen, even to good people, we look toward God and ask, “How could you?”

America is going through a dry season of late, and yet a strange denial prevails. Our economy has taken a major hit. The automotive, real estate and construction industries have seemingly grinded to a halt in recent years. Yet, turn on your television, and the three-ring circus, replete with smoke and mirrors, continues. However, tell the construction worker, the real estate agent, the automobile salesman that life is normal these days, and see what they say. The money these industries would normally generate has created a vacuum in the economy. It affects us all. Economically, we are in a dry season.

Dry seasons come in many shapes and sizes. Usually, they involve loss of some kind: loss of a person we have loved; loss of career; loss of position; loss of a home; loss of income; loss of health whether physical or emotional. The world we once knew has suffered a drought. It has gone dry. The lush greenery we took for granted has died and blown away, and taken our hope with it. If we sink into despair, our fear becomes-- this is more than a season. This is our new reality.

For the child of God, the challenge is often to look beyond the desire for immediate relief. Larry Crabb, in Shattered Dreams, tells of an incident when, as a boy, he became stuck in the upstairs bathroom of an old country house with no ventilation. His desire was relief, to be set free to frolic in the green shade of the lawn below. His challenge to us is to leave such childish desires behind us, to grow up. He encourages us to learn to quiet ourselves, to seek God and his lessons, even while still enclosed in the hot confines of our discomfort.

In these dry seasons, God reveals some of his richest lessons, his greatest treasures, to those who persistently seek Him. Find them amidst the rubble, diamonds in the dirt. There, buried in the shards of junk we once held dear, we discover how little those things really mattered. We unearth a greater truth-- the one thing that matters more than anything in the world is the thing that no one can take from us.

"Spiritual seasons of dryness and the desert teach the soul to listen to and embrace God's will in its impenetrable mystery. They are signs of progress...and in the process, we surrender control, and by personal abandonment to God we find Him afresh not for his gifts but for Himself."
Kenneth Boa (Conformed to His Image)

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

"...We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:3-5

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” Philippians 4:12

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or nakedness or danger or sword?" Romans 9:35

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