So…originally, this post was going to be about springtime. What with all the glorious weather we’ve been having (until today, that is, as it snows like crazy!) and with Easter just a few weeks off, it seemed to be the perfect idea for a blog. But as I searched Scripture this morning for some applicable verses, my focus turned to something else….
Not exactly a “springy” thought, is it? But there’s a message here which I believe is worth sharing.
The passage that triggered this subject is Joel 2:21-23:
Fear not, O land;
Be glad and rejoice,
For the Lord has done marvelous things!
Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field;
For the open pastures are springing up,
And the tree bears its fruit;
The fig tree and the vine yield their strength.
Be glad then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the Lord your God;
For He has given you the former rain faithfully,
And He will cause the rain to come down for you —
The former rain,
And the latter rain in the first month.
Now, granted, this passage is referring to Israel and, I believe, a specific time period. But doesn’t the message still ring true for us? Doesn’t our Lord still do marvelous things in creation? Doesn’t He provide feed for the animals and rains for the crops? The last few weeks, He certainly has been! The sun shining and rain dripping…tendrils of grass poking their heads through the earth…gardens being planted…my sister’s flowers edging out of dormancy. It all radiates with His glorious providence.
It’s curious how the prophet writes, “Do not be afraid” to the animals because, when you consider it, the animals aren’t the ones who worry. We are! When snow or rain is scarce, our rumors spread about a summer drought. We worry and fret about wildfires, hay prices, and poor crops. But what about the wild animals, like deer and elk, who depend on native forage for their sustenance? They don’t stress about a drought when it comes; instead, they take what is given to them and then, oftentimes, move on when they’ve exhausted their resources because they recognize that there must be new, fresh food somewhere else.
Animals are pretty smart, and I believe we can learn a lesson from them about dealing with the “droughts” in our own lives.
Sometimes life — or a certain portion of it — seems stale or flat. We’re stuck in a rut and can’t go anywhere. Maybe we can’t find work, or the job we have is far too constraining. Perhaps we’ve realized that the degree we’re pursuing in college isn’t an area in which we want to spend the rest of our lif. Or maybe we’re in a spiritual drought, where we feel distant from God, as if our faith is cold and ritualistic. When these droughts enter our lives, we behave like typical human beings, either ignoring what’s happening or fretting and agonizing over all the “what if’s” that could possibly happen.
But in all our concern and anxiety, we miss the point.
God allows droughts to occur in our lives to show us that He has something more for us…something we’re blindly missing. Accepting a different job. Switching majors. Moving to a new town or college. Identifying weak spots in our relationship with Him as well as ways to “draw near” to Him. Droughts aren’t just another burden of life to bear. They have a purpose.
Two, in fact.
The first is that droughts teach us to rely on and listen to God. When faced with a physical drought, the poor animals can’t do much to make it rain…nothing really. So they follow their instinct and and their noses to the nearest moisture and green grass. We can do the same. Instead of trusting our “instinct” and sense of smell, we can trust the urging of the Holy Spirit and also “sniff out” God’s will for our lives by reading the Bible and earnestly praying. The more we learn to rely on God for His guidance and provision, the better we will understand His will for our lives. As we endure droughts not on our own strength, but on His, our relationship with God will bloom and blossom like the well-nurtured, over-productive zucchini plants in my mom’s garden at home.
The second purpose is that, through droughts, God will lead us to green pasture. After all, that’s where the deer travel. They don’t wander out into a desert or back to the field which they cleaned up the night before. They head somewhere where the grass is green and nutritious, scarce though it may be. And that’s exactly what God does for us. He has somewhere new He wants to lead us, or something new to teach us. God has a fabulous future in store for each of us and He refuses to let any of His children settle for second best.
And so, with a drought, God drives us out of Ordinary and into the Unknown.
He doesn’t promise to make it easy, simple, or a bed of roses once we get there; most of us have seen pictures of drought-driven animals, skinny and footsore. But God does promise that, in the long run, the journey will be worth all the weariness and bumps and bruises. Because, in the end, our destination is far better than where we have been, and it’s one step closer to where God wants us to be.
The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Isaiah 58: 11