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Monday, September 15, 2014

Desert dryness and darkness galore

There are times when all we need is a little nudge in the right direction - then we are off and running at full speed.  It is the lack of that "little nudge" which can keep us cemented to our chairs, too.  We are definitely creatures who want "confirmation" of direction before we set out.  There is nothing wrong with this, but there are just times when God expects us to act in obedience, even when we don't feel a "little nudge" to do so!  Over the past couple of weeks, we have explored passages which point to us listening intently, using our common sense to help us in our decision-making, and hearing God's voice in a myriad of ways. There is no "secret" voice of God - he doesn't speak to just a select few - he speaks to all of us.  We just have to learn to recognize when it is we need to wait for his "voice" to become clear to us and when it is we can count on what we already know to be true in our lives to guide us.  Learning the balance between common sense, waiting on God, and "feeling" the little nudge of the Holy Spirit is what we really need to grasp.

You are my God. Show me what you want me to do, and let your gentle Spirit lead me in the right path. (Psalm 143:10 CEV)

David starts this psalm with the words:  "Listen, Lord, as I pray! You are faithful and honest and will answer my prayer."  His heart is seeking God's wisdom in matters he just cannot seem to figure out himself.  There are times when God gives us enough common sense (learning we have accumulated and assimilated into our lives) which can guide us through circumstances.  At other times, we just need to be still long enough to begin to get direction from God.  David recounts this truth in these opening words - for God has been faithful to listen when David shares his heart - honestly appraising David's needs and giving him wisdom on how to proceed.  This should give each of us a little bit of comfort, as well.  As we consider that God is honest with us - appraising what it is we REALLY have need of and then helping us to grasp it - we should take heart that God will not guide us down paths which will bring us harm, or fall short of giving us exactly what we have need of.

If we read on in this chapter, we will see David is at the end of his rope. He is even exhibiting some signs he is a little depressed.  He uses words like "I am in total darkness like one long dead" and "I have given up all hope and feel numb all over".  Now, these aren't very encouraging words to say the least, but I want us to be encouraged by David's honesty and transparency with God.  He is not afraid to let God know how desperate the condition of his mind, emotions, and spirit are at that moment.  He is hurting and God doesn't shrink away from this type of honest communication.  I think there are times we don't bring our hurts and emotional distress to God simply because we think God expects us to rise above them and have our life all together.  We feel "inferior" to what we believe we should be "feeling" at the moment - because somehow we have a belief Christians don't get in the mully-grubs.  To this I can only say, "WRONG!"

He goes on:  "I remember to think about the many things you did in years gone by.   Then I lift my hands in prayer, because my soul is a desert, thirsty for water from you."  Those times when we are the "driest" are the times God wants us to draw the nearest.  Instead of pushing away from him, we need to draw nearer.  When we have a wrong perception of what it is we are to do with our defeated attitudes, lack of hope in the midst of unbearable trials, or our seemingly "done in" sense of loss, we won't bring them to God, but will try to "deal" with them alone.  I have to ask:  "How's that working for you?"  For me, it doesn't!  I just get deeper into my mire!  I don't imagine it is much different for you, either.  So, in order to gain hope when all hope seems to be gone, deal with our feelings of being "numb", and experience refreshing in our times of "desert dryness", we need to bring ourselves squarely into the presence of Jesus.

You know how we do this?  We recount what we know to be true about God! David had a way of doing this - recounting the many blessings of God, his faithfulness, and his interventions in the past.  All helped to refocus him.  In the place of despair and despondency, we don't need "more" of anything - we already possess all we need, we just need to refocus!  We need to turn again to what we know to be true in our lives - turn again to Jesus.  David said, "Each morning let me learn more about your love because I trust you.  I come to you in prayer, asking for your guidance."  He trusted God - plain and simple.  If we trust someone with everything we are, we will lean into that someone with all we've got.  This is the way out of our despondency - leaning!  Too many times we think it is in digging our way out, but in truth, it simply in learning to lean in a little harder.  Just sayin!