South America’s Atacama Desert, a 990-mile strip of land on the Pacific Coast of Chile and Peru, is considered the driest place on Earth, if you exclude the North and South Poles. The Atacama averages just over a half-inch of rain each year and some weather stations have recorded zero rainfall for decades.
Death Valley is traditionally regarded as our nation’s driest location, averaging about 2.2 inches of rain per year. However, another spot, Calexico, California on the Mexico border, in recent years received less rain than Death Valley, where signs are posted reading, “Warning! Extreme Heat Danger! Walking Not Recommended After 10 a.m.”
The Psalmist found himself walking in a dry place spiritually. He pleaded with God, “My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).
In another Psalm, the writer admitted, “My soul clings to the dust,” then implored, “Revive me” (Psalm 119:25). At least ten other times in Psalm 119, the writer requested God’s reviving touch.
Have you ever found yourself in a dry place spiritually? A place where you felt disconnected from God and your interest in spiritual things diminished? The ongoing, seemingly unending stress of Coronavirus stats, news, and daily developments certainly takes a toll on our mental, emotional and spiritual health if we’re not careful. How do you know you are in a dry place spiritually?
In his blog, Chuck Lawless, a dean and professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, listed “Ten Signs You’re in a Spiritual Rut”:
• You read God’s Word, but it’s only a “check-the-box approach.” You read because you’re supposed to, not because you want to.
• You pray, but your prayer is brief and repetitive.
• You can’t readily talk about what God’s been teaching you lately.
• You feel spiritually tired.
• You’ve not shared the gospel with anyone in a long time.
• You feel no sense of excitement or anticipation about going to church.
• You’re less sensitive to the Spirit’s conviction when being tempted.
• Your testimony relates what God has done in the past, not present-tense stories of God’s work in your life.
• You find yourself less interested in hanging out with other believers.
• Your spiritual walk is on autopilot. (Used with permission. Subscribe to Chuck Lawless’ blog at www.chucklawless.com).
How do we overcome spiritual dryness and experience personal renewal?
First, recognize your reality. Get real about your condition. Admit to God you’ve taken a step backwards in your spiritual life. Get desperate enough to long for God to refresh your spirit.
Second, repent of any sin. Are you neglecting the disciplines that spark spiritual growth? The nourishment daily Bible reading and study brings? Twice the Psalmist petitioned, “Revive me according to your word” (Psalm 119:25, 154). Are you neglecting prayer and communion with God? Are you neglecting corporate worship? Is there unconfessed sin in your life?
David confessed after committing adultery, “When I kept silent, my bones grew old (wasted away) … My vitality was turned into the drought of summer” (Psalm 32:3, 4). His unconfessed sin suppressed his spiritual vitality. Asking forgiveness brought him closer to renewal.
Third, reveal your status to trusted confidants. Openly share your spiritual condition and let accountability partners encourage and pray for you. Let them put into action, “Bear one another burdens, and thus fulfill the law,” (Galatians 6:2).
Fourth, reset your priorities. Seek God. Make time to read His Word. Spend time in prayer. Draw near to Him and He’ll draw near to you (James 4:8). While you’re resetting your spiritual focus, give attention to your physical needs. Exercise. Rest. Eat right and eat well. Manage your time wisely. Don’t overcommit. Take an occasional nap.
Fifth, redeem your experience. As we seek renewal and persevere through this spiritual rut, look for what God is teaching in this season. Ask, “What are you showing me? What do you want me to learn? How are you enriching me through this experience?”
Pastor Rick Warren says God uses dry spells to help us grow.
“Dry spells shake us up … God brings dry spells into our lives when He wants to get our attention.” (www.pastors.com, 8/4/20). As the Psalmist testified, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:71).
[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road, near McCurry Park, and invites you to join them this Sunday for worship at 9 and 10:55 a.m. Worship online at www.mcdonoughroad.org and “like” them on Facebook. Contact Chancey at email@example.com.]