March 26, 2009

Even Now

Every word I write is an exploration into God’s grace!”

Yesterday, a dear writing friend shared this quote by Bonnie Grove with me. As I’ve read and reread the quote, its syllables echo against the cavernous walls heart.

Right now, writing doesn’t feel like an exploration into God’s grace, it feels like a march across the desert. It’s not that I can’t write or don’t want to, it’s that the inspiration and connection just aren't there. The well of my soul that routinely fills my bucket to overflowing now returns but a few drops. My lifespring seems tamped down to just a trickle.

It’s not just with my words. God feels distant, period. As American Idol judge, Randy Jackson might say, “I’m not feeling it dog.”

How can this be? We enjoyed such a Sprit-filled weekend at the Alpha retreat and I saw God at work in powerful ways. How can a time like this follow a time like that? Yet, even before the retreat I sensed it coming.

Have you ever had this experience?

Lots of times our faith is first sparked and then buoyed by big emotions. When we first meet Jesus, it’s a lot like falling in love. We’re excited to be around anything that has to do with Him.

But eventually we come to the end of our feelings. Old doubts start to creep in, maybe some cynicism too. Busyness encroaches and distracts. Our spiritual habits don’t bear the fruit they used to. Our souls feel parched. We wonder how we missed the signs and ended up on this valley, dry as dust.

The first time I found myself in a spiritual trough I panicked, thinking my faith hadn’t “stuck” or wondering if I’d done something wrong. It was then I learned faith is a choice, not a feeling.

C.S. Lewis describes this very experience as the Law of Undulation. He says humans aren’t able to achieve constancy and instead we operate between a series of peaks and troughs that affect all areas of our life, including our relationship with God.

As he brilliantly elaborates in The Screwtape Letters:

“[God] leaves the creature (you and me) to stand up on its own legs—to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best… [God] wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles.

[Satan’s] cause is never more in danger, than when a human, no longer desiring, but intending, to do [God’s] will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."

Did you catch that? First of all, God uses these troughs to grow our faith. He wants teach us to walk by faith, not by sight…or by feelings. Second, the enemy is never more powerless than when we obey God as an act of our will and not as a response to the evidence and emotions of the moment.

So right now, I choose to follow. I choose to keep on keeping on even though it’s not all that rewarding. But, just as the sweet emotions don’t last forever neither will the lack of them. I know that in time the Spirit will send a fresh anointing and the feelings will return. As for my writing, perhaps God’s leading me to a new place? Maybe He wants me to pause or change direction. At the moment I’m not sure.

Do tumbleweeds blow across your faith landscape? Have heart that this too shall pass. God may be teaching you to stand on your own two feet and leading you to a new vista and a higher calling. Choose to persevere and keep on keeping on.

I’ll share the counsel my wise friend gave me today, “Claim God’s truth. Pray the Psalms. Beseech Him.” That's where I'm going to start—in Psalm 139. Maybe I’ll find that even now, time spent in this arid place is still an exploration into God’s grace — minus the exclamation point.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”
(Psalm 139:23-24)

13 comments:

Becky said...

Oh yes, I have been there! I'm not sure who this quote came from but I've clung to it many times...Trust God's heart when you can't trace His hand. There are times I have to remind myself that God can see the "big" picture. He knows what tomorrow holds for me. I will trust Him. I agree with CS Lewis...the dry times are when you grow in faith, trust, and hope. I will remember the dry times and I will remember when He sent the soaking rain. Two things I know for sure: 1. God is in control. 2. He's never let me down.

This is what I think upon in the desert. Life is hard, but God is so good!

Sending up prayers for rain!

:) Becky

Theresa said...

I can relate with this right now. It is an interesting season in my life at the mommemt.

The Psalm at the end is my life verse for 2009. It speaks loudly to me everyday!

Terri Tiffany said...

And yes you may call yourself a writer--look at what you just posted!beautiful words written with such passion and heart! God is doing a work in you for sure:) And I for one have seen how the days come at you when you just have to keepon going no matter what so Satan doesn't get that grip going.

JerryLyn said...

Kelli, Boy, can I relate to this. Being up on the mountaintop and falling off the cliff to the valley is no fun. But even in this "dry time" or wilderness, you overflow with the Spirit...even if you don't feel it. Psalm is absolutely my favorite and Psalm 139 is such a beautiful place to be reminded of how much God loves you, Kelli. I love this: Choose to persevere and keep on keeping on. Taking the step of faith to CHOOSE to persevere. And in my experience, the growth I've experienced in the dry times is pretty astounding. Thank you always for your honest, beautiful words that speak truth and challenge us!

Debbie said...

A time to be still, a time to reflect. A time to go deeper, understanding the sovereignty of God (whether we like it or not). It is only then we draw closer to Him.

Love you :)

Deb

Saleslady371 said...

Bless you Kelli.
Your gift of writing sparkles even in the "arid" place. When I'm in the dry place is when I grow the most for I'm depending on the rock solid promises of His Word, but why do I love the high place better?
Have a great weekend!

Praying for you today,
Mary

Melanie said...

The "trough" times happen.
I wrote something similar here:

http://bellamella-melanie.blogspot.com/2009/01/do-it-anyway.html

Melanie@Bella~Mella

Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, I can definitely relate. Here is something I wrote last year in a piece about personal worship (not yet published):

"...what about the days I struggle? The times I just don’t feel a connection, when my songs and words seem to fall flat around me? I sing anyway. I press on and
pray, knowing that my emotions are unreliable but my God is ever faithful. He will hear me and be touched as I try to honor Him when my feelings confuse me."

So hang in there, girl. Sing anyway. Keep writing. And by the way, this "desert" writing of yours is more like a stream in the desert! Great post!!

Joy in The Truth said...

Hi, Kelli! OK, when I went to my "history" just now to get to your blog....you were not on my history. :) Too long between visits for moi! Glad to visit and be refreshed here. :)

While reading this post, it reminded me of one of my "life verses":
Jeremiah 17:7-8
"But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

Though at times those tumbleweeds get me tangled up, my daily desire is to be a tree planted by the Living water...rooted in the streams of life.

Bless you, Kelli, as your posts are always so heartfelt and thoughtful! :) Enjoy this beautiful spring day in Bucks County!

Confident in Him alone,
Sharon

Bonnie Grove said...

Hey Kelli,
Always great to meet up with someone who is walking in grace.

So neat how, when we look grace full in the face, it looks and behaves in unexpected ways. That's what my novel Talking to the Dead explores - unexpected grace found smack dab in the middle of our nothingness.

Bonnie Grove
www.bonniegrove.com

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Well, friend, let me just say that if this is what a desert will birth via your pen, keep to the sands, my friend! Last year, I wrote a couple of desert posts, explaining my walk along these lines. I do believe that our lives walk more like deserts than Eden. It's the way of our flesh. And if there's one thing that I am always careful to tell anyone who bothers to ask (or who sits long enough for the answer) is that our faith walk is an obedience. Period. Not a feeling. That means today, whether I feel like it or not, I do my quiet time. I pray my prayers, I try and be the woman I'm called to be rather than the woman I feel like being, which looks a whole lot like feeding my flesh rather than my spirit. You fill in the blanks with your preferences.

This time will pass, but it probably won't happen with fireworks. Slowly but surely, as you are faithful to the road, God will show up with some truth, some peace of mind, some "ah...everything is going to be ok" kind of moments. You will breathe again and be thankful for the road walked.

But in my experience (and this is mine alone), rarely have my deserts ever made sense. Yes, they've made me stronger, but I'm still scratching my head over a few of them.

We're walking it through, friend, to our forever. When we get there, we'll understand. Until then, we're called to the journey of believing it will be there when we arrive...

understanding within the great big wrap up of our Father's arms.

Keep pressing on. You're not alone. It's pretty hot and arrid over here.

Lots of love and as always...

peace for the journey~elaine

Tea With Tiffany said...

I so relate to your desert experience. And I find it so biblical.

I often tell others--and myself-- to remember that after the mountaintop experience to EXPECT the valley to come soon after. Be armed and ready to face the enemy. He is a thief and he will try to thrwart God's plan and steal the seeds of faith.

This is normal. But no fun, I know.

Please know I see your faith shining brightly as you point to pressing through during this dry time in faith. It will pass, hopefully soon, and your faith will be stronger because you continued to praise and pray to God anyway.

Loved this honest and inspiring post!

May His Spirit fill you with songs of joy today!



Tiffany

Sue J. said...

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. --Psalm 63: 1-3 (when you get there!)

Persevere, Dawg! It's not that you need stay in this valley, unless that is God's intention for your ministry, but passing through it will continue to give you cause to find Him! Maybe it is time to just know Him where you are, even if you feel like you're in the Sahara without a road map.

Trusting Him with all things is much easier said and written than done! He allows us these side trips to show us that He still provides, even if we are not doing the work we originally thought we were intended.

Hear Him! Wait on Him! He is truly faithful to bring you through!!