I’m not sure what it is, maybe the time of year or maybe just the time in our lives, but these last couple months have been a bit of a dry season for a lot of people I’m close to. A lot of us have been out in the wilderness when it comes to jobs, our prayer life, our worship time, our family time; everything just seems pretty dry. It’s a time of waiting, a time of internal struggle, and a time of longing.
If you happen to find yourself in a dry season, take heart! You’re not alone, and we are not alone in history either. The Bible is filled with stories of men and women who spent considerable time in the desert before God did great things in their lives. Moses, was in the wilderness tending sheep when God spoke to him through the flaming bush. He went on to lead the Israelites through the desert for 40 years before they reached God’s promised land. David spent plenty of time running around in the wilderness from King Saul before he became king. The New Testament tells us that John the Baptist spent the first part of his life in the wilderness eating locusts and honey before his ministry started. And after John baptized Jesus and the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, instead of heading strait to ministry, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness. I could go on and on with examples, but I think you get the picture.
The wilderness ends up being an important thing for those who serve God and his kingdom. It’s a time when we learn that we can’t just make things happen out of our own strength, a time when we learn to lean heavily on God to sustain us. Often it’s in the wilderness when we first turn to God’s word, looking for some sort of answer to what we face. God uses our time in the wilderness to mold our hearts, to be the great Potter, shaping our lives into his design.
If there’s one place right now that I could say I’m in the wilderness, it’s in my devotional time. I’ve been reading the One Year Bible, and right now we’re in Leviticus. Anybody who’s ever read Leviticus knows exactly what I’m talking about. It’s filled with page after page of tedious instructions on how to prepare offerings. Eat this. Don’t eat that. Wear this. Don’t wear that. There’s a chapter or so that’s devoted to how to prepare a certain kind of incense. It’s incredibly easy to get bogged down in Leviticus.
I’ve been here before, so every time I reach Leviticus, I just roll up my sleeves and try to read through as quickly as I can. This time however, God struck me with something that I had never noticed before. Even as God deals out these detailed, strict, seemingly legalistic instructions, there is a definite thread of grace throughout the passages, for even as the required sacrifice might be a goat, God says, “If you don’t have a goat, bring two pigeons. But if you don’t have two pigeons, bring some grain.” God wasn’t actually hung up on having a goat, he wanted the heart behind it. Ultimately, the poor person’s grain offering and the rich person’s goat offering counted as the same in God’s eyes.
You can find this theme in Jesus’ life as well in the story of the widow who had only two small coins to give in the offering. While the religious, pious people were bringing huge, luxurious offerings, Jesus said that this woman’s offering of her last two coins was greater than all the rest.
I believe that the same principle applies to our spiritual dryness. I don’t think God wants us to feel guilty for not having the same emotional response we may have had in worship last year. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say with a disheartened look on their face, “I just don’t feel anything anymore.” That’s okay. God is well aware that we sometimes don’t have the same amount to give that we had before, and what he wants from us is for us to give anyway. He looks at our hearts with so much love and grace. And better yet, as believers, he looks at our hearts and sees the sacrifice his Son Jesus made.
So, if you’re in the wilderness, don’t panic. Press into God and his Word and know that it’s his desire to use this time to shape you into the person he wants you to be. And even when you don’t feel like you have anything important to give God, give him the what little you do have. He delights in your sacrifice.