May 2009


OK I’m going to go ahead and admit it. 

For some months now, I’ve found myself to be in a season of spritual dryness.  Following Lent, I thought it would lift with the coming of Easter and it did for a short while but truthfully it has also lingered. It’s a strange state to be in and one I don’t particularly enjoy.  I know in my head that God hasn’t gone anywhere and that his goodness and faithfulness continue.  His character is unchanging and I’m confident of that.   And so I’ve continued to be faithful in meeting with him each morning.  But  here’s the catch.  I don’t always sense that he’s really shown up.  And at other times, I realize I’m just going through the motions of adoration, confession, looking for Jesus in the text, and how this changes me — but I don’t feel a warming of my heart, I don’t sense the power of his Spirit within me, and I’m not always convinced that I’ve had an experience of God’s presence. Its frustrating for my soul yearns for more.  A deeper connection.  The closeness of a confidant.

So what to do when I’m in this place?  I’m tempted to blow off our times together and I’m tempted to get worried or anxious about where my faith has gone.  I even find myself wondering about our times of sweet close communion in previous seasons of my life. Why does that now seem so elusive?  What did I do?  And where did he go?  But in the end, and by God’s grace, I don’t give up.  Instead I heed the advice of one of my spiritual mentors who has encouraged me in the past about the vital need to just  “keep on showing up”.  And so I have.  And so I do.  I know what a lifeline meeting with him is for my heart and for my well-being – even when I don’t “feel” like I’m getting much from it.  It puts my humble existence in perspective and reminds me of who is really in control and where my true identity really lies.  

I also cling to the truth of 2 Cor 4 that “outwardly we are wasting away but inwardly we are being renewed day by day (v16).   Thus I remain confident that the process of inward renewal continues to happen, mysteriously and wondrously.

And it happens daily.

 Even through the driest of times.

And in time, my soul will be drenched again with the One who is the living water.

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As the celebration of Easter Sunday recedes into the past and begins to feel like a dimming memory, I find myself wanting and needing to hold onto the triumphant joy that filled my soul that resurrection day.  Like believers all over the world, I celebrated the empty tomb that was made known to Mary and the others who came there early that day-after-the-Sabbath, by worshiping at special services, belting out resurrection hymns, and sharing the company and good food of dear friends.    I rejoiced that the impossible has been made possible.  Jesus the Messiah is no longer dead but alive.  And the curse of death has been broken forever.  

And yet, the hope and joy that come from the knowledge of the resurrected Jesus is only made possible because of what the cross accomplished.  And that came through shame-filled suffering, gruesome torture, and an untimely death, along with  Jesus bearing the unfathomable weight of all of humanity’s sin.  As sobering as this reality is, it’s left me facing the grim truth that the road to glory is through the cross.  Suffering and hardship are inescapable aspects of life this side of heaven.  Even Jesus warned of us that himself: “in this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

But how short our memories are.  Somehow, especially in the comfort-crazy culture of the west, it seems we have come to expect not ‘trouble’ but feel entitled to good jobs, generous salaries, and expanding retirement portfolios.   

In this post-Easter season, we would do well to reflect anew on the inter-connected nature of the cross and the resurrection.  In doing so, we may well find that we would be less perplexed by this season of suffering and hard times.  And yet we could draw deep hope from the reality of a Savior who has overcome the world.  One who doesn’t ask us to do anything he hasn’t already done.  He has experienced suffering on a cosmic level after all.  And One who promises that he will never leave us nor forsake us.