Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seasons of Life: Drought

The hills and canyons are green this time of year in San Diego.  Many colors of green.  And orange and purple and yellow flowers bloom along the side of the freeway.  I catch fragrances from the blooms near my front door, and bees buzz all around.  It's spring.

I wondered if we would see green this year.  It hardly rained all winter, and without water, the canyons lack color.  That's not entirely true.  They are brown.  Like dead straw.


We pray for rain in San Diego.  Without it, we're not very pretty, to be quite honest.

Even with rain, we always lack sufficient water.  Our economy, our lifestyle, our reputation as a vacation paradise is dependent on water from many sources: reservoirs, the Colorado River, spring run-off from faraway mountain snows.

We need water.  We need rain.  We need help.
We're always on the verge of drought.

But I digress.

With average high temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, it's easy to overlook seasons in Southern California.   And certainly, our seasons are not as extreme as other places, like Minnesota, for example. Nevertheless, we do have winter, spring, summer, and fall.  Even though flowers are always blooming somewhere, we do have green times and brown times.

With sufficient water, San Diego blooms in springtime.  The hills and canyons remind me that after the cold of winter, after the brownness, comes life.  Indeed, the brownness, the dryness, is part of the way God made Southern California.

As much as I would love to have year-round 80-degree days with the scent of jasmine everywhere, life is not like that in this part of the world.

I see beauty in all the seasons God has made for this region.  I see beauty in the rain, in the blooming, and in the sunny days that dry out the canyons.

Trusting in the seasons, knowing that the 80-degree days will return and I will again feel God's love with the touch of the sun, that I will not always wake up to icy mornings, actually makes me enjoy the rain and all the other seasons.  Let it rain because the rain brings the green.  If there's no rain, I won't actually get to enjoy the green days.  If' it's always dry and 80, the canyons begin to die.  And I know that when the canyons turn brown and pale yellow, I know it's temporary.  It's not beautiful, but it won't be this way forever.

We see the rhythm of seasons in our physical lives.
We see the rhythm of seasons in our spiritual lives.

This morning I read Frank Viola's blog titled "In Praise of Dry Spells."  

Viola discusses the significance of seasons in Jesus' teachings, and then he begins to describe the dry spells we experience as Christians, as followers of Jesus.

I would like to say that I live completely in love with Jesus every day of my life, that I wake up with a worship song on my lips, and that I never doubt God's love for me.  That I never doubt God at all.

That is not true.  It's just not.

Viola defines dry spells as spiritual drought when "the Christian's throat becomes parched, when his/her eyes are filled with sand.  One's spiritual life is dull and lifeless.  You feel as if you're going through the motions.  there's a dearth of joy, excitement, and fervor.  Songs that once moved you to tears no longer touch your heart.  When you open up the Bible, the pages are blank.  Prayer is a study in boredom."

"God is the author of dry spells," Viola writes.  "He plans them.  He creates them.  He brings them.  And He eventually removes them.  Our Lord authors dry spells as much as he authors wet spells.  He engineers both of them."

I agree.  Just as God created Southern California to move through rain to green and then sunshine and dryness, he leads me into dry spells.  And just as I must trust that the canyons will not always appear lifeless,  I must trust that my dry spells will not endure forever.

During these times I must walk in faith, remembering what God has done in the other seasons of my life.  That's one of the reasons we need spiritual communities.  Even when we forget what God has done, these communities, these men and women who love us, will remind us about what's true.

A few years ago, I sat in the canyons during a drought time.  I found that if I rested in one place long enough, I could see that the dry canyons were not devoid of life.  I just had to look a little harder to see the life.

Viola suggests that God is not really absent during the spiritual droughts of our lives.  He asks, "Do you know what God is doing during a dry spell?  He's searching us out.  He's asking the acute question 'Do you want Me only during the good times, or do you want Me in the dry times also?'"

He suggests that "dry spells are designed to purify our love" for God.

Just as none of us can make it rain on our own, none of us can make the grass turn green or cause the flowers to bloom, none of us can end a dry spell.  We must wait.  We must trust in the seasons.  We must trust in God.  

3 comments:

Tom Mohan said...

Erin, I guess we need those dry spells in order to really appreciate the good times. I know I get so spoiled when everything is good that I can get mad at God when things go wrong. Suddenly forgetting all the blessings he graces me and my family with. And yeah, we could use more rain this year. Could be an ugly fall if we don't get some.

Tom Mohan said...

Erin, I guess we need those dry spells in order to really appreciate the good times. I know I get so spoiled when everything is good that I can get mad at God when things go wrong. Suddenly forgetting all the blessings he graces me and my family with. And yeah, we could use more rain this year. Could be an ugly fall if we don't get some.

Jill said...

This post hit me hard! Thank you for being the voice of the Lord for me today Erin. I have been going through a "dry" spell. Not that the Lord isn't always with me, just sometimes He is so quiet and I get so busy that I forget to listen and look for Him.