July 5, 2014

the desert years

Last week when I went for groceries and the cashier asked me how I was, I was too fresh from my hard in-the-car cry to say "fine" convincingly, so I went with "all right" and as much smile as I had.  She didn't buy it, and raised an eyebrow at me.  I copped out with "it's just one of those days."

Well, today - another grocery run day for me - was pretty much a repeat.

This time, though, I smiled at everyone in the store who would meet my eyes, determined to make my own good cheer.  I chatted with the cashier and bagger, and smiled my way back to my car (where I repacked all my groceries to fit into the cooler.  Mental note:  next time ask them to put the cold items into the blue and the orange reusable bags; together, they fit).

I smiled through the library and the dry-goods store and the BK drive-thru, and then I parked my car in a shaded space at the park, and gazed at flowering hostas and neatly-kept paths and studied the light while I munched my burger.

Amazing, how the light brings things to life.  Grass in the shade is just grass, almost invisible, certainly not noteworthy.  Grass in the sunshine, though, is bursting with vitality - you almost expect it to break into song!  And leaves!  Well, leaves in the sunshine - especially if there is a bit of a breeze - are downright celebratory.  All that dancing and frolicking with light pouring through the chlorophyll in their cells and turning them into living jewels - !  I've tried taking pictures to try to capture it, but am never satisfied with the results.

I want to be like those leaves in the sun - full of life, filled with Life, and instead I so often feel heavy with cares.

Now, level with me, Christians.  Is it just me, or is life hard - even sometimes during seemingly pleasant circumstances?  Even with God?  

The fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control - do you often feel full of that?

I know some bubbly Christians.  Not intimately.  I don't know if I've ever known anyone well who was truly and consistently bubbly.  But there are some I don't know well who bubble quite a lot.

I'd like to be bubbly.  (By now, though, I rather suspect that bubbling is not to be my primary lot in life).

I know that bubbliness is not listed in Paul's letter to the Galatians, but I really want to know:  what should an earnest Christian expect her inner life to look like?  Do anxiety, depression, and heaviness betray a neglect of spiritual disciplines?  Does a lack of vitality resolve with sufficient efforts toward God?

Some people hint that if you're really Spirit-filled, you'll be sort of "on" all the time (or at least most of the time).  Do you actually know anyone like that?  Are you like that?

Is it personality?  Some get to be Tigger, some are slated to be Eeyore?  Is it because we live in a fallen world - nothing will be as it should be until heaven?

For forty years I've gone to church nearly every week.  My family has been Christian for generations.  As a new teenager, I raised my hand to accept Christ as my personal Savior (an experience I was tempted to repeat on numerous occasions, just to make sure I was truly sincere about it).  At the other end of my teens, I was prayed over to receive the Holy Spirit, to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.  I have prayed in tongues. I have seen God answer the prayers of my children, and have received prophecy over my life that has moved me to tears.

Why this dry spell, now??  Why so long, and so wide, and so deep?  I cannot fathom how God gets glory from my tears, from the barrenness of my spirit.

Later on the porch, resting after I'd vented my frustrations a bit with mulch and a shovel, it hit me:  I want to choose the fruit that the Spirit is working in me, and if I had my druthers, I'd choose joy every time.  JOY!  A great big old dose, splashing over onto everyone around me, spreading laughter and hope everywhere I go.

But just maybe, I've overlooked faithfulness, there towards the end of the list.  Good old undervalued Faithfulness - not much of a star in today's culture - plodding along there not unlike Patience, another attribute non-native to my temperament ...

And if it takes a desert to form faithfulness in me, what can I say except "Not my will, but Yours be done, Father"?

So be it.  Even Jesus, after all, spent time in a desert . . .


  1. Interesting that just yesterday I was just thinking about the generations of people in my heritage (half of that shared with you, eh?) that followed Jesus. My following thought was, I refuse to be the one to let that go in this generation simply because life seems overwhelming and hard...Why is my life any harder than those before me? (probably is a fair wack easier) There's something to be said for long obedience in the same direction.

    1. Yes. You are right. And just last night I was reading an old post of mine from that book (http://buretachi.blogspot.com/2013/06/coward.html and http://buretachi.blogspot.com/2011/08/cheerfully-struggling-on.html). Maybe it's time for a re-read. He is real about the struggle without also being defeatist about it. I will hang on, we will hang on - hopefully encouraging one another along the way! I see you have a new post. I'm off to read it.

  2. Ha! I'm pretty sure I raised my hand three or more times, just to make completely sure. And then the doubts would creep in... I hear you about the desert times. I seem to be there too. For me, I'm trying to apply simple math in regard to spiritual disciplines. If I'm spending more time on the internet than I have reading God's word and talking with him, I think I can expect dryness. I'm not nourishing myself enough. Oh so much easier said than done! Your words about faithfulness reminded me of a quote from good old C.S. Lewis that Sara and I repeated over and over again, trying to imitate the intonation and accent to perfection (we were listening to the audio book). Ok, let me do a quick search for it...found it! From Screwtape Letters. I think it was a senior devil writing to a junior devil (Wormwood) about how to thwart God's doings. "Be not deceived, Wormwood, our cause is never more in jeopardy than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe in which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys." Not completely the same, but similar. Keep up the plodding faithfulness!

    1. KLJAL - thank you for the encouragement! Perhaps I would enjoy the Screwtape Letters better now that I am older .... When I first read them in college, I was rather more critical than appreciative. Now, when I think of criticizing my favorite author .....the audacity!! Thanks for looking up the quote. :)


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