Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I was puzzled as to how we could be near "severe drought" conditions when all the world around seemed green and lush. My walks into the countryside overlook oceans of green crops gently swaying in early morning breezes, most of which are taller than I am. Freshly mown lawns, roadsides and wildflowers put forth fragrances in the cool morning air that are both refreshing and invigorating. This is often accompanied by the gentle rustling of foliage as light winds stir the canopies of the trees that grace these paths. There is evidence all about me of flourishing life. But here on the screen before me was the foreboding warning of imminent ruin in the words "severe drought".
"Ridiculous" I thought to myself as I went to the faucet to fill a glass of water to quench my sudden unexplained thirst. The forecasters must have it wrong. Then I began to ponder the conditions that would prompt such an obviously misguided prognosis. It dawned on me that I had seen probably no more than one or two days with rain this past month and of those days, the rain came intermittently and never in a solid, day long, steady shower. It also dawned on me that I had seen many lush green lawns, but I had also seen a fair number of sprinklers put forth to keep those lawns lush and green. Further, my own lawn was needing weekly mowing, not from the turfgrass growth, but from the weeds that thrive when the turf is in decline.
As I continued to mull these events over, the condition of drought became less ludicrous and more credible in my understanding. Though the world was green around me, drought conditions did exist. Though to my eyes all was lush, hidden to my understanding was the damage that was currently occuring and would soon present itself in the fields, turf, and landscape from a lack of necessary regular rainfall and irrigation.
Suddenly, ice-water sounded really good.
I can apply this to my walk with the Lord as well. I love and follow Christ and I have, for the most part, proclaimed him as my Lord and Savior for most of my life. This earns me no special status. Many people make this claim. Why is it, then, that so many who claim His lordship in their lives, who profess to know Him as Savior find themselves disconnected, weakened, and powerless in their own lives? Why is it that people who have near perfect church attendance records, volunteer to teach sunday schools or greet at the church, or involve themselves in any number of outreach ministries find themselves empty and "dried up"? Why is it that those who profess to know and fellowship with the authority of heaven find themselves subject to the whims of day-to-day circumstances and misdeeds of others?
Connectivity and involvement with the local church is tremendously important. Applying your giftings, time, and resources in the name of Christ to reaching and ministering to others is likewise important and even critical. I am actually focusing the microscope inward, at myself as much as any - which is the point of this blog. For even though these are important outward works of the Body of Christ, above all God desires relationship with you and with me. It is why we were created. But what happens when we are too busy?
I very recently found myself in the trap of being so busy living the life God gave me that I was having trouble making time for the One who gave it to me. Relationship with my Father was being ignored for all of the obligations and demands upon my time and the effects were telling. I could see it in my home, in the manner in which I handled stresses at work, and in my initial reactions to those who were unkind or "less than Christian" to me. I felt the disconnect and no matter how much I struggled with it in my own strength, no matter my good intentions, things always seemed to be going sideways. I felt faith and strength drained from me - I was wilting.
I was not able to live to the fullest, "abundant life" as promised in the Word, because I was failing to regularly water my heart with the Word, water my relationship with my Father with time spent alone with HIm. I was drying up and quickly becoming a burned out shell, weak and depleted of will, strength, and motivation. I was going to church, I was listen to my favorite Christian music on my favorite Christian radio station. I was praying in my car and reading clever sayings and quotes on media sites. I was even daily trying to squeeze in those bursts of scripture from sites I've subscribed to in triage fashion. But this isn't relationship. This isn't immersion.
God wants so much more for each of us. He wants daily moment-by-moment, "in the now" living for Him. The only way we can achieve this is by being regularly refreshed and watered in His Word, in time spent with Him speaking our hearts, prayers and petitions and listening for His reply. I've never heard the thunderous booming voice from the clouds, but I've often heard the soft quiet whisper in my heart that I know to be Him; but only when I'm listening. Only when I desire to hear. Only when I commit to be still and know He is God.
This week our forecast is calling for near record temperatures and it is anticipated that the effects of our drought conditions will become readily apparent. But the heat of this week is not what initated the problem in the biology of the local plant-life. It was the lack of rain the entire previous month that has and will adversely affect the green world around. It is not the trial that will uproot your faith or frustrate your will or your plans. It is your lack of regular fellowship and seeking of our Father. It is the lack of root structure that prevents the plant from withstanding the scorching trials and pressures of this world and the enemy's unending assaults. Roots naturally grow through regular irrigation. They seek it out.
Jesus knew exactly what He was referencing when He stated that He possessed Living Water. The first chapter of John shows us that Jesus is the Living Word. The Word is Living Water and is available to our thirsty souls any time we desire. Psalms 1:3 says:
"Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do." (NLT)
Personally, I would like to prosper in all that I do, but I know it is not within my own strength or intellect to achieve this. I would like to bear fruit in every endeavor and every effort that I put forth, but I find myself stretched too thin and too limited in my being to keep up with the plans that God states He has for me.. It is only in the center of God's Word that I find the wisdom, the patience, the knowledge, and the quenching of my thirst for fulfillment. It is only in my relationship with Him that I find growth and strength to withstand the dry times. We must guard against the business of our lives to make sure we allow for the necessary watering of our souls for this is how we become the trees that bear fruit in the garden that is our lives. Tending the garden of our relationship with Him, watering ourselves in His Word - this is how we stay green and strong even when the world is forcasting drought.
Posted by Joshua Mikeworth