The second week of January began in a predictable way, weather wise, here in the Pacific Northwest. The clouds and the wind were rolling in, billowing and forming a thick layer of insulation against a gray and darkening sky. A light rain fell on the evergreen and tall pine trees surrounding my Washington home. The season of Winter has definitely made it’s grand and wet appearance.
Right now, I feel as though I am walking through the desert–a dry, parched land with a scorching sun and hot, unrelenting winds. Not in a physical sense (although a hot, dry sunny day does sound nice!) but in a spiritual sense. Spiritually dry. Another term I could use to describe what I am going through is walking through the valley.
I know that, over the last several weeks, there has been a shift in the awareness I was feeling in regard to God’s presence in my life. Now, I know without a doubt, that God will never leave me nor forsake me (Joshua 1:5). Whether or not I “feel” His presence, I know that He is there. I believe in this Truth and in no way feel abandoned. However, I wanted to understand more of what I was going through and shared my experiences with one of my nearest and dearest God fearing “mom’s” that the Lord has blessed me with.
During our conversation, she reassured me that what I was experiencing, she could also relate to, and that she has walked through it. She asked if I had ever heard of, “dark night of the soul.” I had not. Charisma magazine author, Joy F. Strang, describes it in this way,”…a season of dryness–called a dark night of the soul by 16th century mystic John of the Cross–during which it seemed as if God was not there.” While visiting together, my friend and I, discussed this subject, and others, while we shared the Word of God, prayer, wisdom, and lots of hugs. And coffee! 🙂
Joy F. Strang, in her article titled, “Why you’re in a Spiritual Desert,” describes her own experience of being spiritually dry.
“During my “dark night” I realized that on our path to spiritual maturity, we don’t go from mountaintop to mountaintop. We have to walk through valleys as well. Even after we have arrived in our “promised land” we may experience spiritually dry times.
David confirmed this truth in Psalm 63, in which he expressed the thirst he had for God in the midst of a “dry and weary land” (v. 1). He wrote the psalm in the desert of Judah—a dry region in the promised land! David had experienced God intensely before (see v. 2) but found himself for a season in a place “where there [was] no water” (v. 1)”
For a moment, let’s focus on, “we don’t go from mountaintop to mountaintop.” A mountaintop experience can be described as a place (or time) where we can clearly hear God’s voice and we are able to follow His leading because it is clear to us. God’s presence leaves us feeling empowered, strong, inspired, and loved. We feel confident, through this mountaintop experience, that with God, we “can do anything through Christ who gives us strength” (Philippians 4:13).
As much as it would be amazing to never leave the mountaintop, the reality of living in a sinful world, is that many seasons of our life are spent in the valley. This is where our faith is really grown and matured and used by God.
Billy Graham has this to say in regard to mountaintops and valleys: “we are made for the valley of life. God will sometimes allow a view from the hills, but only so that we might be refreshed enough to return to the valley–where the action is–that we may be of service to Him. Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys“ (Graham, Billy, v).
Did you catch that?! “…but fruit is grown in the valleys.” This is where the action is, where our faith and our fruit, grow together in a way that can be powerfully used by God!
I’ll share a few things that I am doing right now while I am experiencing this dry season.
1) I asked God to search my heart and reveal to me any sin that I need to repent of and receive His forgiveness.
2) I start my day in the bible. By doing this, I know the foundation of my day begins with Him, and my heart and mind are better prepared to respond to His presence throughout the day. This is also a time when I read my devotional, I begin a new one each year.
3) I always begin my day with prayer. Depending on what I have going on for the morning, the length of time varies. However, two things never change. Everyday I begin and end my day with prayer and thanksgiving.
4) I ask God to open my heart in a way to be of service to others throughout my day. He has never disappointed me and given me lots of ways to bless others. As a result, this takes the focus off of me and my own cares, and I get to share the love of Jesus with those He brings into my life.
5) I listen to music that remind’s me of God’s presence in my life. I listen to it in my car, while I’m cleaning the house, getting ready to write, and especially when I am feeling sad and depressed. There is nothing that can turn my mood around quicker than when I put on my favorite Christian artist, turn the volume up loud, and dance for my Savior, “much like David was dancing before the Lord with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14).
6) Several times throughout the day I pause and pray. Whenever I drive by my daughter’s school, I say a prayer. When an emergency vehicle is going by, I say a quick prayer. When I am anxious, stressed or not feeling well, I say a prayer. And especially when God brings someone to my mind, I say a prayer for them. Praying in this way again, takes the focus off of me and my worries, and directly releases them to God.
Our faith and fruit grow the most when we are close to the vine (Jesus) and filled with the Living Water. This requires action on our part through the Word of God, prayer, and submitting to God every single day.
I encourage you, know matter what season you are in, to develop a prayer, bible reading, praise, and worship schedule that allows to be as close as possible to the God of the Hills and Valleys! God Bless You!
All the Glory to God,
Image of “It takes a valley and a God…” by CHRISTian Poetry Deborah ann
Image of “You’re God of the Hills and Valley’s by taurenwells VEVO
Graham, Billy. “Unto the Hills: A Daily Devotional.” Foreward, page v. Word Publishing. Print. 1996.
Strang, Joy F. “Why You’re in a Spiritual Desert.” Charisma Magazine. Web. 31 May 2015.