August is often the driest month of the year here in Southern California. Not only is it physically dry, but it can also be spiritually, relationally, and emotionally dry.
The fact is, you’re more than halfway through the year, but you still have a long way to go. It’s about that time when you start to reflect on all your goals and wonder how you’ll get everything done.
We all face dry periods. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been in ministry. Dry periods are a part of everyone’s spiritual journey—a truth we often forget.
When I find myself in a spiritually dry spot, I use it as an opportunity to evaluate my life and examine whether I’m living in the will of God. It’s easy to get out of the will of God, but it’s also quite easy to get back into it if you will simply ask God these three questions.
- Who do you want me to be? God wants us to always grow more and more like Jesus. If you ask this question, God will show you areas where you need to grow.
- What do you want me to be? Often, this is wrapped up in the question of your vocation or the roles you take on in life. Your roles will change depending upon the stage you’re in.
- Where do you want me to be? This final question is about your location.
I ask these questions all the time. I never assume where I am is where God wants to keep me. Nor do I assume that I don’t have an area of my life that needs tweaking.
We must constantly grow and change. That’s why these questions are important. Otherwise, you’ll assume you’re already who you should be, what you should be, and where you should be. Most of us aren’t wired to instinctively seek change. Instead, we get stuck in ruts, and a rut is just a grave with ends kicked out.
We rarely change when we see the light; we change when we feel the heat. One of the ways God brings on heat is through dry spells. Dry spells shake us up.
My experience in 50 years of walking with the Lord is that God brings different dry spells into our lives when he wants to get our attention.
- When God allows your peace to dry up, he is dealing with who you are. Everything seems to be in chaos. You’re struggling to make ends meet. You’re not fulfilling your deadlines. Instead of seeing what’s wrong in you, you’re noticing what’s wrong in someone else—a family member, a coworker, or a congregant. Whenever you start looking more deeply at what you don’t like in others, God will disturb your peace. He wants you to ask, “What about myself needs to change?”
- When you lose your joy, God wants to change what you’re doing. You simply don’t enjoy what you did in the past. What you used to like about your job doesn’t seem to fit anymore. I’ve had a variety of jobs in my life. I’ve served as a senior pastor, a youth pastor, a writer, a Christian college teacher, and a program intern. I’ve also had several different secular jobs. Each time God began to change my vocation by taking away my joy in what I was doing.
- When God makes you uncomfortable, God wants to change where you are. God did this with Elijah in 1 Kings 17. God was using the ravens to bring him food and take care of him, and he could drink out of a nearby brook. But then the Bible says, “After a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land” (1 Kings 17:7 NLT). Elijah started having a pity party, asking God if he still loved him. But God was trying to move Elijah on. God will do that to you, too. As long as you’re comfortable, you won’t go anywhere. So God makes you uncomfortable.
I don’t know where you are today. Maybe you’re experiencing a time of great spiritual richness. But you will experience a dry time in your life and ministry at some point, and God will feel like he’s a million miles away. Your prayers will feel like they’re bouncing off the walls.
But God is there. He has never left. He loves you too much to leave you where you are.
Dry spells are God’s wake-up calls. Are you listening to what God is saying?