As quarantine settled in around me, so did my own spiritual desert. I didn’t feel God’s presence or enjoy spending time with Him. His Word wasn’t leaping off the page to speak to my heart. Worship felt routine and my prayers just bounced off of the ceiling. I felt envious ( I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true) of others that found quarantine to be a time of spiritual refreshing. I had been down this road before…but I felt particularly stuck this time. How could I get out of this place?
My relationship with God has a lot of parallels to my relationship with my husband. Sometimes the feelings flow easily and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes there is more commitment involved than passion. But like in marriage, there are practices that help bring me through that dry place and into a place of thriving and growing again. Changing things up can re engage my heart, mind and soul.
So here are some practices I’ve discovered that can move me from empty, dry and stuck toward filled and flourishing. Each one has much written about it…I’ll just give a quick overview here to get you thinking. I pray that one (or more) can serve as a tool to encourage you if you’re feeling stuck too!
- Pray Scripture – this is a huge help in my prayer time. It gets me out of the rut of asking for the same things and opens my eyes to an eternal perspective!
- Try a new Bible study – check out a new author, style, or type of study. This is especially helpful if done with a trusted friend or group.
- Read the Bible in a different version – I know we all have our favorites, but try one that’s really different to see “old” truths with new eyes. Check out the Amplified, Message, or International Children’s Bible.
- Nature – God’s creation reveals part of who He is. Get away from man-made environments and let Him talk to you.
- Express God’s creativity – paint, knit, design jewelry, plant flowers, decorate, sew…the possibilities are endless. This is a way to connect to His image in you.
- Journal – it’s a powerful tool that clarifies thoughts and heart postures, creates space for deeper levels of contemplation, and serves as a record of God’s faithful work in your life…all of which build your faith in Him and increase His image in you.
- Repent – this is hard work and a tough practice, but sometimes our feeling of separation from God is because of unconfessed sin or a step of obedience we haven’t been willing to take yet. He is faithful and just to forgive!
- Fast – this is another spiritual practice that has gone out of style. I have found fasting …whether food or something else (media, entertainment, social media, etc.)…has a unique power to refocus me and to reveal hidden places that I am idolizing.
God is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) He doesn’t change or move. But we do. That’s okay. God knows our frailty and changeable nature. He loves us and created us for relationship with Him. He is not freaked out by our tough seasons, but He does want us to choose trust and obedience when we don’t “feel” it. And He longs to be pursued.
As I’ve come through that dry season and into a place of new growth again, God has reminded me of the importance of putting down those deep roots so that I can be the tree that “does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and it is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8) So whether we’re in a drought or a season of plenty, let’s do the hard work and make it a priority to get those roots sinking deep.
Author: Heidi Gilboy