The pen falls from my fingers and skitters across the floor as I jerk awake. I sigh — I’ve fallen asleep during my Bible study time. Again. Frustrated, I snatch up a new pen and struggle to find my place in the passage, only to drift away once more. After a few more moments of effort, I give up and grab my phone. I’m getting nowhere with Bible study . . . but if I send these text messages, at least that will be off my mind.
Days pass, the pattern continues. I drag myself to the chair and open my Bible and my prayer journal, hoping that today will be the day I hear from Him. I wonder, What is wrong with me? Why is this once-sweet time now dry and stale?
I used to envision myself sitting with God, sharing with Him everything on my heart. Now, my mental picture has morphed, and God sits on a huge throne far away — unattainable, unreachable.
It seems that no matter how hard I try, I can’t find my way to a place where I feel connected to God. Everything is dry, desolate, barren. Desert-like.
I remember a sermon series on Exodus and the pastor’s explanation that God often uses our time in the desert as a period of preparation for the next thing to come. So I pour myself into study, searching for some oasis to offer a gentle reprieve.
But nothing changes . . .
I call my friend, Jodi, remembering that she experienced something similar a few years back. Together, we recall her tearful phone call, her fears that she might never again feel the connection with God that she so desired. I ask what she did to find her way out of the desert.
Her response is both discouraging and encouraging. “Nothing changed,” she says, “but then everything did.” She tells me to keep going through the motions. Heart will follow mind, and the pursuit of relationship with the Father is a discipline.
The truth is, each time I pick up my phone instead of my Bible, I’ve already made the decision that I won’t find communion in the pages of His word. Jodi lets me know that she will be praying with and for me. She reads a short passage of Scripture over the phone and then prays those words back to God.
And so I continue on . . .
Some days, it feels like slogging through mud, and I finish my study weary and discouraged. Other days, the reading goes quickly, and it feels as if the Scripture verses flit across the surface of my mind, only to disappear before really grasping them.
As I wash the dishes, I listen to a playlist of songs centered on the faithfulness of God. Sometimes I sing along to “I Will Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle. On other days, my voice can’t fight past tears and I can only listen as “He Will Hold Me Fast” relates truths that don’t quite feel real. Sometimes I memorize verses about the goodness of God and repeat them to myself:
“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT)
When something resonates — a song that makes me feel a little closer to Him, or a moment where I feel communion with Him — I take note and write it in my prayer journal. Keeping a record of God’s faithfulness helps me realize that there are small drops of rain here, that this spiritual desert is not as dry as it seems.
Weeks and months pass until, one day, I realize that my pen almost can’t keep up with the prayers I am writing. I have more to say to God than I have in so long. And when the words trickle to a stop, it occurs to me: There’s a quiet peace running under the desolation I so often feel.
That same week, during worship that Sunday, one of the songs connects with my heart in a new way, and I find myself singing it back to God throughout the week. I follow a breadcrumb trail of cross references and discover an old truth in a new way. Rather than forcing myself to spend a minimum of time seeking God, I anticipate the time I will spend with Him each morning, and I engage in a continuing conversation with Him that ebbs and flows throughout the remainder of the day.
My Father’s faithfulness washes over me, refreshing my heart and bringing new life and new growth. As I pray, I imagine myself sitting beside Him in a meadow, a stream flowing nearby.Leave a Comment