As we near mid-summer (according to the school calendar not the sun), it is growing hot in Texas. Soon July and August days of 100 degrees or more will make the heat seem never-ending. Despite our tendencies as Texans to crank down our air conditioners so far that we have to wear sweaters inside, I find myself tired and drained from the relentless heat outside. By the first of August I am usually wondering if it will ever rain or get cool again.
Life sometimes ends up looking like the long, hot Texas summer. We hit a period that is spiritually dry and weary. We feel drained from even ordinary tasks and wonder if we will ever feel spiritually refreshed again. Will we enjoy the blessings of the Living Water poured into our souls? Will God ever seem near again?
Have you experienced such times?
Right now my life feels much that way. There are days when I am sure this stretch of weariness is over and other days when I am convinced that it is a permanent condition. Often I recognize the presence of God in events, conversations, his Word, and prayer, but I usually feel dry even in the midst of time with God.
I know that God uses such times for his purposes, maybe in part to test our faith—not because he is unaware of its depth but because we are unaware of its absence. It is easy to believe we have a lot of faith when all is well and God is very present.
What have I learned in the midst of this and previous spiritual long, hot summers?
I have learned to let my dryness drive me more urgently to God’s Word where spiritual water flows. It is impossible to hear God’s voice and feel his presence at a distance. I am encouraged by the truth that he is always with me (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5) and the recognition that feelings are not proof of reality.
I have learned to deliberately remember the moments when God has been clearly present when I am tempted to give in to thoughts that God has forgotten me.
I have learned to deliberately make time for Christian community—friends who encourage and support me.
I have learned to focus on the truth that God is always at work in me (Phil. 2:13) and expect the summer to end when his purposes for it are over, even if it is not on my timetable.
What have your learned in your long, hot summers?