I survived “dry July!”
I’ve just experienced a month of feeling spiritually stale and detached from God.
It happens to all of us.
In my case all it took was a schedule upset. A convergence of situations rearranged my life… Our first summer on the homestead brought oodles of new daily obligations caring for all the animals and the garden. Then a friend moved in with us temporarily. On July 7 my world was turned upside down (in the most wonderful way) by this unexpected kitten I am still bottle-feeding around the clock. And then my book launch was right smack in the middle of all that.
My life got pretty crazy in July!
Before dry July, I had established a delightfully peaceful schedule. Craig and I went to bed early every night (yes, we are now “go-to-bed-at-8:30pm” old). I woke between 4-5am every morning to pray, meditate, read. My morning meditations were extended and meaningful. I had luxurious time to dive deep. That is when the visions and words came. It was a deliciously quiet, sweet, comfortable rut.
That sort of thing never lasts…
As my schedule spiraled into insanity, my daily time with God lost its priority. There just weren’t enough hours in a day to get it all done. Keeping 42 chickens, 7 ducks, 2 rabbits, 2 cats, a dog, and a garden thriving during a record heat wave was time-consuming enough. Then I had to feed a premature kitten every two hours even through the nights. Pulling all-nighters during my college days (studying!) was a common occurrence. Sleep deprivation in my 50s is a totally new ballgame. I began to feel spiritually disjointed and emotionally fatigued. Things that never bothered me before started to get under my skin. God seemed quiet and distant.
By the end of July, I hadn’t really read my Bible in a month. My prayers were stilted and short. No visions or words. Silence.
I was directionless. Working my way back to God felt overwhelming.
But all journeys begin with one step.
So I stepped… with a simple, ten day Bible reading plan on my YouVerse app.
I stepped outside in the morning for prayer walks in the field next to our house.
That’s it. Two simple steps.
And whaddya’ know, surprise, surprise… God IMMEDIATELY responded. All I had to do was crack that door open just the tiniest bit and His presence instantly rushed back into my soul at full strength.
Because the truth is that God wasn’t ever distant from me. He wasn’t the one being silent. I was the one withdrawing, stopping up my ears, filling up my life with everything except Him.
This is what that “I stand at the door and knock” verse means (Rev. 3:20). (Think of that familiar painting of Jesus standing at a door knocking.) This is that verse in action. Distractions will always come. The enemy will make sure of it. That is the nature of this messy life. Neatly planned schedules will inevitably be interrupted from time to time. If God is what we want, we have to be willing to work for it. When our calendars get too full, it is up to us to find a way to return our gaze upon Jesus. He doesn’t usually force us, He is too much of a gentleman. We must initiate.
But if we do that… if we make even the slightest little effort to reach out to Him… He WILL respond with floods of His unending love, mercy and grace. He always does.
Years ago I wrote a song about this marvelous way God has of responding to us. Here are the lyrics:
YOU RUSH IN
My heart is lonely, my soul is dry.
I’m all alone in this barren desert.
I’m full of arrows, my body’s tired.
But I know You are all around me,
Pushing into the walls of my heart.
They’re built with stones of fear,
Wounds and bitterness.
But if I call You,
If I just remove one small stone…
You rush in
Like water flowing to a low place.
You rush in
With Your loving embrace.
You rush in
With rest and peace.
You rush in and water my soul,
You are seeping into the soil of my heart,
Restoring me, renewing me,
Awaking me, healing me,
Making me whole…
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20