Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Surviving Spiritual Drought – Stay Away From Fire

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  James 4:7-8

Perhaps you’ve noticed…dry things tend to catch fire and burn very easily.  This is particularly pertinent to us as we find ourselves enduring this season of atmospheric drought.  Burn bans have been instituted and fire fighters stand at the ready knowing their lives could get very busy at a moment’s notice.  Residents are taking extra precaution to ensure that fires aren’t even accidentally started. 

In times of spiritual drought, we are wise to exercise similar caution relative to our daily living and personal faith.  Why? Because when we are spiritually dry, we may be very flammable.  What do I mean by this?

In times of spiritual drought, I need to be aware of my own ‘combustibility.’ 
·      Spiritual drought may make me susceptible, vulnerable to temptation or worldly behavior. I may even fall back into past sins that I had previously had victory over.  I am wise to acknowledge that tendency and set countermeasures into action.

·      My temperament may be stressed during times of spiritual dryness.  I am wise to remember to separate how I feel inside from the realities that others live in around me.  Patience and gentle responses can help keep me from alienating others when I am feeling the drought.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…
Romans 12:2 counsels: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Much of what I suffer during spiritual drought is not because God has changed – because He hasn’t, or because He isn’t there – because surely He is. It is because I have changed.  My way of thinking, perceiving, relating and reacting have changed…because I have become dry.  Therefore, the place to begin combating spiritual drought is in my mind.  Philippians 4:8 provides us a starting place: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

We also need to set up ‘fire-breaks.’ 
While surviving drought, we are wise to set boundaries on where we are unwilling to go…to stay away from fire.  When in seminary, I had so much reading and studying to do for my classes, and television was such a welcome distraction.  However, if I gave in to the temptation to watch rather than read, it would mean certain death to my surviving the rigorous class schedule.  Yet time and again, I would find myself plopping down in front of the tube “for only a moment”…only to get lost in a program and lose an hour.  Finally, I taped a sign across the television screen that read “Don’t Even Think About It!”  For that season, I had to completely remove that particular temptation from my life.  I was too flammable to risk it.  I had to focus on other things.  Maybe you need to think about setting some limits to protect you from fire too.

Scriptures to claim: 
Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies.  Psalm 141:4

In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them.  Proverbs 22:5

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