Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Heat of Summer

I read Beth Moore's Living Proof Ministries blog.  She posted a video devotional recently that resonated with me.  The message was about the season of summer and how it can easily become a time of spiritual drought for Christians.  I understand this so well, because I have fallen into apathy and discouragement during previous summers... and I have been praying for this one to be a summer of fruit, not a summer of drought.

Let me share Psalm 32:1-4. "Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer."

It's funny how summer can so easily be a season of spiritual drought, because where I live in Texas, a drought usually does come in the summer months, literally.  My hometown has gotten few inches of rain the last few years combined.

As May creeps around, so do days of glaring sun and cloudless sky and cracked earth.  Any green that flourished in April withers away.  The water in our well deteriorates.  And as soon as you step outside into 100+ degree heat, your breath is taken away for a few moments, simply because of the heat.  You can almost wear our Texas heat like a coat.  It cloaks itself around your shoulders in a suffocating, heavy kind of way.  I understand all too well the heat of summer.

David compares his spiritual distance from God to feeling as if his strength was sapped in the heat of summer.  It is a similar feeling.

If you're not careful, Christian, the summer can become a time of spiritual drought, with consequences as wearying as the hottest August day.

Check out this quote from a blog post I wrote on July 4, 2011. 

I'll admit it.  It's been harder to feel God this summer than it usually is.  And maybe it's entirely my fault.  I can't help but compare my emotional and spiritual weariness and thirst to the land around me.  To the parched ground in my backyard.  To my empty well.  To the state of my city.

We need rain.  It may be our driest year yet, but it WILL rain.  Rain will come and nourish the ground one day.  It will bring color into the grass and water into our wells.  This may not happen for a while, but it will come.  God will never abandon us.  And even when I'm going through a dry spell like I have this summer, I have faith that God will not leave me.  He is still here, even when His footprints are not seen.

A few short days later, I posted this:

For the first time all day and perhaps even all week, I felt like God was near.  I felt Him hold me.  Hours before, I had written something for my blog, talking about how I had faith that it would rain one day.  That I knew God would send us rain.  And then it rained for the first time in months.  During a time where I felt distant from God, He sent rain.  He didn't just send rain on the earth.  He sent rain on my heart that night too.

It was such a beautiful moment.  It was like the Lord was giving me a huge hug and saying, "Emily, don't you see?  I never left.  Please let me hold you."  Days later, I still feel so grateful, so amazed that He gave me exactly what I needed.  The rain was such a gift to our thirsty city and to my thirsty heart.

Even when our fickle human emotions makes us feel distant from God, it doesn't mean He feels the same way.  God is always near.  He's always working.  His love is far more unceasing and relentless than our own shifting feelings.

When David was feeling frustrated and distant from God, exhausted even by worship and grieving in his brokenness, God was not ignoring him.  He still called David a man after God's own heart.  His love was big and powerful.  But David's own frustrations and guilt distanced his heart from God, and by the middle of the psalm, he had identified a big part of his problem.  Sin.

Let me remind you that we live under a covenant of grace.  Christ's death on the cross took the punishment for your sin and you are separated from God no longer.  However, sin that you are keeping unconfessed and in your heart, even if it is forgiven by God, can become a source of self-imposed distance in your relationship with Him.

Let me share verses 5-7 of this same chapter of the Bible.  "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord." And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance." 

Your sin may not be as obvious as lying or addiction, but it may still be there in your heart.  Your sin may be bitterness festering like a rotting wound.  Your sin may be apathy, unwillingness to get up and obey what the Lord is asking you to do.  Your sin may be shame because of your sin, a lie and a form of pride that makes you believe what you have done is too bad for your Father to ever forgive.

I encourage you to search your heart tonight.  Ask God to reveal any sin that may be causing you to create a distance in your relationship with Him.

And regardless of what the answer is, if you are going through a season of weariness and drought, do not despair.  As long as you are on this earth, you will go through times of nourishment and times of exhaustion.  Elijah grew so frustrated that he asked God to take his life.  From his psalms, David seemed on a constant roller-coaster of emotions and "Why, God, why?!"s.  Paul struggled, Peter struggled, and so will you as long as you are on this earth.

If this is a summer of spiritual drought for you, I challenge you to spend more time in worship, prayer, and the Word than you usually would.  Even if you feel as if God is a trillion miles away, He knows the yearnings of your heart and He will reward your seeking nearness with Him.  He will not ignore you.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,' declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity.'"

Even if your heart fails, His will not.  Have faith this summer.  Ask the Lord to bring a season of fruit instead of a season of drought... and remember that sometimes the sweetest of fruit can come from a place of wilderness. 

Here is a blog post I wrote on July 5, 2012, describing last summer.  Last summer was one of the hardest I've ever had and I look back on it with frustration to this day.  But I learned from it and the Lord spoke precious things to me in those months.  Looking back, all I can feel is thankful for His faithfulness, even when I didn't see it at the time.

He is good.

Two years ago: An Excerpt from an Action Story of my Childhood


  1. Even in this time where I feel closer to God than I have ever been, this has caused me to see that there is always work to be done. I can't become complacent again. We will always need more of God!