What do you do when things dry up? When you have that feeling that there is nothing left for you to give. You are tired and your soul feels as though it is on the verge of being empty. The ideal would be that we would never get to that place. The reality is that it happens. It happens to all of us. It is inevitable. I wish it wasn’t true, but the reality is these moments teach us about who we really are. These moments reveal to us our true nature and where our hope and trust really is. They push us to the place where we are forced us to cry out to God, and that is not such a bad thing.
I have heard many responses to what one should do when they hit this place.
Push through it.
Pull up your bootstraps and keep leading.
Remember the last thing God told you.
All those things might be good but I wonder if there is a better way. What if this place we find ourselves in is a result of missed identity? Which then begs the question, have we done this to ourselves? You see, we think it is our responsibility to figure out how to have roots that go deep so that when we hit these dry spells we can just dig a bit deeper and find that living water that gives life. Of course this makes perfect sense except that we forget one major thing. Jesus is the vine! We are the branches! Branches don’t have roots! Only the vine has the roots. So we do the things that we think help us have deep roots. In doing so we have placed ourselves as the vine. We have missed our identity, or worse taken on the identity of the one who gives us our identity.
We use spiritual disciplines as a way to make us feel good about ourselves and think that if we just stick to it then they will do what they are supposed to. After all it is what a good Christian does. Now, I am not advocating at all for giving up spiritual disciples but rather I am challenging us to rethink why and how we do them. I can resonate with what Alan Fadling writes in his book, “An Unhurried Life”.
“Oh, I have engaged in spiritual practices, but I’ve done so behind the veil of hurry. As a result, instead of seeing the glory of the Lord and being transformed over time by such a vision, I have actually hidden my face in my spiritual practices. A veil of hurriedness, fueled by a sense of driveness, keeps me from beholding the Almighty’s face.”
Spiritual disciplines are just spiritual disciplines when they lack the desire for communion with our savior! Our hope in trust is not in disciplines but in Christ alone! We know that in our heads but the difficult part is living that out in every aspect of our lives.
In John 15 when Jesus said “remain in me”, or other translations say “abide” it doesn’t quite capture the essence of what he was saying. It is this much deeper meaning that communicates this desire to “stay in a given place, state, relation, or expectancy” (Strong’s concordance 3306). It’s a dwelling, an enduring, that is being fully present with expectation. Jesus is the one who has the roots that go deep into the Father. We are simply the branches and we must dwell and endure with Jesus with expectation and being fully present with Him, so that we can see the Almighty’s face and rest is His glory. It is not our roots that go deep they are His roots.
Spiritual disciplines are simply the avenue that allow us to dwell and abide in His presence. That’s why we do them. We must refocus our desire when we approach them. Is our desire to receive from God or to know God? Is our desire for God to listen to us or for us to listen to God? A small shift in how we approach spiritual disciples allow us such a greater depth of knowing God and discovering, or rediscovering, our true identity and His. To know that His roots go deep, so that when the dry spells come we approach them differently. Knowing that on the other side of it we have a deeper sense of His love for us, our identity in Him, and that He will always be the one to give us the water so that we never thirst again.