When My Soul Needs Water

I apologize for not posting any devotions last week. I assure you it was not my intention, but I found myself in need of some one-on-one time with the Lord to work through some of my disappointments and frustrations. To quote George Mueller, “I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord but how I might get my soul into a happy state and how the inner life might be nourished.” So, I sat with the Lord day after day, setting forth the business of nourishing my soul, which ironically ties in to today’s devotion.

Last week, Jason and I were taking Barnabas out to a nearby heritage preserve for an evening walk/hike. As we drove, the Xterra began acting strangely. At first, it hiccuped a few times, then the temperature sky-rocketed. Uh oh! Since we weren’t too far from the house, Jason decided it was best to turn back so we could assess the problem. Unfortunately, the vehicle had other ideas. It hopped down the road—a process known as “limp mode” according to Jason. We had no idea what the problem was, but one thing was sure—the Xterra was NOT happy. Suddenly, there was a loud pop and an explosion of liquid from under the hood. Jason pulled over into a small pull off as I did my best to calm Barnabas. . .and myself.

It turns out, somehow and somewhere, the Xterra had dumped all of its water. It was running dry. That’s why the temperature was so high, and that’s why it refused to move smoothly.  It was dehydrated. Empty. Lacking that which it needed to run properly. Fortunately, the excessive rain of late had formed puddles in the ditch nearby, and we were able to fill the radiator with enough rainwater to get us home. (Talk about showers of blessing!) As to why the vehicle is losing water, we still don’t know. It’s scheduled to go into the shop next week. (Yay! More car repairs!!!)

Oddly enough, the more I thought about the situation, the more I realized I could relate to the Xterra. It seems as if I’ve been operating in limp mode for some time now. I knew something wasn’t right, but I guess I kept hoping my sad thoughts and irritability would just go away.  Of course, that never happens. But I felt too busy to deal with the issue. I knew I needed some time to sort things out, but I rationalized there were too many other things to do. I told myself to buck up and do life. But I wasn’t doing life, and the Xterra’s breakdown helped me to see that I, too, was dehydrated. Spiritually dehydrated. Empty. Lacking that which I needed to run properly.

Sure, I did my daily Bible reading and prayer time, but honestly, I think I was just going through the motions. My heart wasn’t in it. I needed more. I needed to immerse myself in the water of the Word and keep drinking until my dry soul felt renewed and refreshed. So, I spent last week doing just that. I poured my heart (and a lot of tears) out to God. I read the Bible. I journaled. I sat still in God’s presence and savored just being with Him. And you know what? I feel like a different person. Am I all better? Probably not. Will I go into a funk again? If I’m not careful, yes. But that’s not the point. The point is, I recognized a need and did what had to be done to meet that need, and in doing so, I remembered how valuable and vital God’s Word is. I may not be running on all cylinders, but I’m out of limp mode, and for that, I praise the Lord. Limp mode is miserable, but nothing a little water from the Word can’t fix.

Is your soul dry today? Are you going along in limp mode? Do you find yourself too busy to care for your spiritual needs? If so, I urge you to take time to nourish your soul. Get away with God. Immerse yourself in His Word. Pour out your heart to Him and spend time basking in His presence. Take a day or two or however long it takes for your soul to be renewed and refreshed. I assure you, it’s worth it. You know what they say—sometimes you have to come apart and rest awhile, or you’ll just come apart. Don’t let that happen to you. Refreshing, living water is within reach.  

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
— Psalm 63:1-7

The Bend in the Road

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Sometimes we come to life’s crossroads and view what we think is the end, 
But God has a much wider vision, and He knows it’s only a bend.
The road will go on and get smoother, and after we’ve stopped for a rest, 
The path that lies hidden beyond us is often the part that is best.
So rest and relax and grow stronger; let go and let God share your load, 
And have faith in a brighter tomorrow; you’ve just come to a bend in the road.
— Helen Steiner Rice

A bend in the road.  Scary thought, isn't it?  I mean the road has been rough enough, but now there's a bend too?  A bend that we can't see beyond.  A bend that could be hiding any number of possibilities from our view.  A bend that could change everything, and let's face it--change frightens us.  

I'm reminded of a roller coaster.  I love the crazy things.  Big hills?  Bring it on.  Twisty turns?  That's the way I like it.  Corkscrew loops?  Oh, yeah!  Pitch black?  Um, now wait a minute.  Yes, you've discovered my weakness--I'm scared of the dark.  Well, not really, but a roller coaster that I would enjoy in the light has the tendency to bring me to the brink of terror in the dark.  I don't mind the hills, the corkscrews, the twists and the turns. . .as long as I know they're coming.  In the darkness, I can't see, so I don't know what to expect.  And somehow, that uneasiness of the unknown turns my adrenalin rush into genuine fear.

The unknown has a way of doing that, doesn't it?  That's why those bends in the road cause such anxiety.  But could it be that we're missing something?  Could it be that we're so worked up about the unknown and the path that is hidden from view that we're missing one of the biggest results of a bend in the road?  We know that God has a purpose for everything.  He doesn't place bends in the road for no reason, and I think one of those reasons is to make us slow down.

Think about it, when we're driving and we come up to a bend in the road, what do we do?  We hit the brakes, right?  Most of us (and I say "most" because I've seen some drivers that might not qualify for this statement) wouldn't dream of hitting that bend at our current speed.  That speed is meant for straightaways, not for curves.  So, out of good sense and a desire to stay safe, we slow down and take the bend at a reduced speed.

Perhaps that is all God is trying to do with our current bends in the road.  He wants us to slow down.  He desires for us to be still.  He longs for us to take some time to just be.  It is during those times that we can feel His closeness and hear His voice.  How many times have we missed it because there's too much to do, because we were simply speeding through life?

I know there's a lot to do.  Trust me, I understand.  But may I remind you that "Be still and know that I am God" is not a request or suggestion?  It's a command.  How many of us are heeding it?

Are you facing a bend in the road?  Is that sense of uneasiness getting out of control?  Take it easy.  God is working all things for your good, so whatever is waiting around the bend is a good thing.  In the meantime, slow down and enjoy the ride.  After all, the Driver has it under control

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
— Psalm 46:10

Reunite With Delight

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For children, delight is easy to come by. A new toy. Recess. A trip to the zoo. A loose tooth. Christmas. Yes, each of these things and many more bring a gleam to the eye and a smile to the face of youngsters across the globe. But in the grown-up world of jobs, traffic, deadlines, and bills, delight is harder to come by. Perhaps that’s why so many of us struggle with the concept of delighting in the Lord. We want to be happy and joyful. We want to sing praises and give worship to God because we know He’s worthy. But how do we force ourselves to feel delighted when the emotion isn’t there?

Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
— Psalm 37:4

Does anybody else cringe when reading this verse? Delight thyself also in the Lord. Up to this point in the chapter, the psalmist (under the inspiration of God) has ordered, “Don’t worry, don’t be envious of others, trust in the Lord, and do good."  And then, on top of everything else, he continues, “And delight yourself in the Lord.” Seriously? I can’t even get the first command in check, and now you want me to smile and praise like I don’t have a care in the world? I read that verse, and instead of finding comfort, I see one more demand on my time, energy, and resources. But more than that, I see one more area in which I feel like a spiritual failure.

This morning, however, I took the time to dig into the meaning behind the command, and I discovered something that changes everything. Once again, I had limited God’s Word to my feeble understanding by concluding the word “delight” meant only one thing—to be happy. But if you study it out, you’ll find the word actually has multiple meanings, and those other meanings transform this command into a reprieve or respite. 

The Hebrew word translated “delight” means “to be happy about; to be soft and pliable; to be pampered.” Yes, the Lord wants us to be happy in Him and to experience joy in His presence. He longs for us to desire and obey Him, to long to please Him. But, it goes beyond that. He also wants to see us soft and pliable, as clay in the Potter’s hands, ready and willing to be molded as He sees fit. The good news for us here is that we don’t have to do the work. We only have to be willing to allow God to work in and through us. We don’t have to determine the how or why, nor do we have to figure out how to make everything come together as we feel it should. God does the work. He is the Potter, and we are the clay.

Better still, to delight in the Lord is to be pampered by Him. We rarely think of the Lord pampering us, but isn’t that precisely what He does when He pours down blessings on us time after time. He responds to our every cry and meets our every need. When He asks us to delight in Him, He does not intend to burden us with another item on our to-do list but rather to invite us to rest in His presence and allow Him to lavish attention on us. Think about it for a moment. One-on-one time with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That’s something special—remarkable even. And we’re invited to spend time in His presence anytime we want for as long as we want. We can talk, listen, or just enjoy the silence. God offers us a time to come away from the world—the grown-up world of jobs, traffic, deadlines, and bills—and to reunite with delight.

Delight thyself in the Lord. It's more than an emotion.  It's a choice.  A choice to rejoice even when we don't feel like it.  A choice to allow God to mold and make us into what He wants us to be.  And a choice to rest in His embrace and allow Him to pour out His goodness upon us. Now that I understand it fully, I think I can do that. How about you?