When You're Wandering in a Dry and Weary Land
- Dena Johnson Martin Dena's Devos
- 2014 16 Dec
It has been an incredibly dreary few days in Oklahoma. The skies have been gray. Light drizzle falling. The fog has been so dense I can’t see the house next door. It’s been a string of days where you just want to curl up with a blanket and sleep.
And, that’s actually what I have done. You see, on top of the dreary December weather, I am fighting my annual bout of laryngitis. I am locked in a prison of silence. The work of communicating is so exhausting that I find myself unable to continue. The energy required to get off the couch and do the normal activities of life is more than I can muster. My body cries out for sleep, rest, quiet…things that are almost impossible for a mother of three.
Sometimes I wonder why I have to battle laryngitis so frequently. I often say it’s because that’s the only way God can get me to slow down and rest, to be quiet and still. I tend to go non-stop until I crash. Unfortunately, as a single mom of three teen/pre-teen kids, I don’t know how I can possibly live any other way. My to-do list is never-ending, and life doesn’t stop when I get sick. My kids still have ball games and tumbling. They still need dinner and clean clothes. A mom’s job never ends, and a single mom has no one to share the burden.
But there are times when life comes crashing down and you just have to slip away to a quiet place and rest. And that’s where I have found myself this week.
If I’m honest, this gray, dreary exhaustion is also reflective of my spiritual life right now. I have come through a period of unbelievable intimacy with my Savior. I have heard his sweet whispers each and every day, reminding me of his tenderness and care for my every need. I have experienced his hugs, so real that I felt as if his presence was that of another human. I have seen him lead me and guide me, building my faith in ways I never dreamed possible.
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But today, the skies are gray and dreary. It’s been months since I heard that sweet whisper of love. His hugs seemed to vanish. I long for the intimacy, the joy that punctuated my relationship with him. I feel as if I am wandering in a desert land, waiting for him to show me the direction I should go.
And yet, I hear nothing but silence. Deafening silence.
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief (Psalm 22:1-2).
David was familiar with the sense of abandonment. Can’t you hear his frustration? Where has my God gone? Why the distance? What have I done to cause the silence? Why can’t I seem to find him?
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I completely understand his cries.
If I had intentionally begun to walk away from God, I would understand. If I was involved in some sin causing a rift in my relationship with him, I could accept the distance. If I had stopped seeking him—stopped my Bible reading and prayer time—I would gladly accept the responsibility.
However, I continue to give my mornings to God as I have for the last few years. I continue to carve out time to pray. I continue to flood my mind with sermons and music designed to keep my mind focused on him. I continue to seek him daily, longing for the closeness and intimacy I have come to enjoy.
Instead of the daily whispers, I feel the occasional tug to do something out of my comfort zone. Instead of feasting on the daily nuggets of his word enlightened by the Spirit, I catch a sporadic word that touches my heart. Instead of words flowing easily onto paper, I struggle for inspiration and motivation.
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Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
Our ancestors trusted in you,
and you rescued them.
They cried out to you and were saved.
They trusted in you and were never disgraced (Psalm 22:3-5).
I find it interesting that David moves from his cries of frustration directly to reflecting on who God is, on his holiness. He begins to recall God’s faithfulness, his tender mercies to the Israelites.
I have found that reflecting on God’s attributes and his faithfulness over the years helps me tremendously in this time of spiritual dreariness. Where has God shown me his favor? How often has he poured out blessings on my life? What has he done to show his faithfulness to me? How has he provided for my needs?
My life has been blessed beyond measure. Yes, sometimes life is hard. Sometimes my relationship with God seems one-sided. Sometimes it is hard to see his hand at work around me. It is in these times that I must remember all the times God has come through for me in the past to give me the faith to know that he will come through for me again.
Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb
and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
I was thrust into your arms at my birth.
You have been my God from the moment I was born (Psalm 22:9-10).
God has spent the last few years teaching me faith, building up an unshakeable confidence in his ability to do anything. Now, he is teaching me to trust.
I can say that I have faith in something, but until I actually act on my belief I don’t truly trust. For example, I can say that I have faith in a chair, but until I actually sit in that chair I’m not actually trusting it to hold up my weight.
I almost feel as if I have come through a period of God giving me promise after promise. Now, he is testing me to see if I actually trust him to fulfill those promises—even in his silence. It’s one thing to trust when you hear his sweet voice reassuring you every single day; it’s another to trust when he is silent and you can’t see his hand at work all around you.
My life is poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax,
melting within me.
My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead (Proverbs 22:14-15).
David was an expert at expressing his feelings to God. He didn’t hold anything back. He didn’t hide behind a mask, pretending to be ok. He let God have it!
Too often we tell everyone—except God—exactly what we are feeling. Somehow, it doesn’t seem right to tell him we are angry. Or scared. Or frustrated. Or weak. Or weary.
The truth is, God already knows how we feel. He knows our fears and our frustrations and our doubts and our weaknesses. He would love for us to honestly tell him about it. He would love to wrap his arms around us and comfort us as only he can.
O Lord, do not stay far away!
You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!
Save me from the sword;
spare my precious life from these dogs.
Snatch me from the lion’s jaws
and from the horns of these wild oxen (Proverbs 22:19-21).
Again, David didn’t hide his feelings; he told God that he was desperate for his presence.
I long to have my Savior whisper sweet words of encouragement to me again. I long for his presence to be real to me again. I long to see his hand working around me, taking over my circumstances. I beg him daily to mold me, to make me more like him, to use me any way he sees fit. I need my Savior more than ever before.
When is the last time you or I told God we needed him? When is the last time we begged him to be close? Perhaps he’s just waiting for us to recognize our need for him.
I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.]
I will praise you among your assembled people.
Praise the Lord, all you who fear him!
Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel! (Proverbs 22:22-23).
David clearly makes it a point to praise God and to share his goodness with those around him. However, I find it difficult to talk about God when I feel distant. It’s hard to talk about God when you feel spiritually dry, when you are living on the fumes from distant promises. It is difficult to pour out praises from my heart when I feel abandoned by him.
And yet, I’ve had several conversations recently with old friends. As we talked about our pasts, about how God has worked in our lives, I felt an intimacy with God. I walked away with a joy and brightness in my heart that has seemed gone for months.
There’s something about talking about God that just draws us closer to him. It renews our heart, our passion. It gives us a reason to praise.
I don’t know where you are in your walk with God right now. I pray that you are experiencing a deeper intimacy with each and every day. But, perhaps you are struggling right now. Perhaps, like me, the days seem dreary and gray. Keep pushing forward. Keep seeking him. Keep sharing your heart with him. Keep sharing his love with others. Let praises form on your lips.
The gray skies will soon fade into a glorious morning, and God will reveal his amazing purpose for this time.
Dena Johnson is a busy single mom of three kids who loves God passionately. She delights in taking the everyday events of life, finding God in them, and impressing them on her children as they sit at home or walk along the way (Deuteronomy 6:7). Her greatest desire is to be a channel of God’s comfort and encouragement. You can read more of Dena’s experiences with her Great I AM on her blog Dena's Devos.
Publication date: December 16, 2014