The secret to walking through a dry spell
Kimberly Tan // February 5, 2021, 2:42 pm
What is your picture of an “ideal Christian”?
When I was younger, I always thought that an “ideal Christian” would be a passionate and tireless individual who was always serving, studying the Bible… I could go on and on.
And so I gave my best shot to hit that standard of holiness. Oftentimes, it felt so good to be meaningfully occupied.
But there was one problem. Time and again, I would experience seasons of spiritual dryness, especially in my own Bible reading.
It didn’t recharge me at all. But in the spirit of discipline, I trudged on, compelling myself to quickly get through it each day.
ANYONE ELSE RELATE?
What if I told you we might have gotten our picture a bit mixed up. What if Christian activity isn’t the mark of an “ideal Christian”, but a byproduct of being one?
In fact, let’s shed the label of “ideal Christian” right now. It carries the presumption of an identity made up of ticks on a checklist.
Instead, let’s talk about being a child of God.
Being God’s child is founded not upon what we do but how we relate to Him as a Father.
Does being God’s child mean being busy doing His work 24/7? If so, why are we called children and not employees?
Does being God’s child mean being able to know at the back of our hands every Bible verse and its exegetical explanation? If so, why are we called children, and not specialists or experts?
Because my dear friends, being God’s child is founded not upon what we do but how we relate to Him as a Father.
IS YOUR QUIET TIME QUALITY TIME?
Consider this question: Do you spend unhurried time with Him?
Now I don’t mean that 10 minutes you spent chionging through your devotional today. Or that one hour you spend weekly in cell group studying a Bible passage.
Do you have a living and vibrant friendship with our Lord that isn’t just a cognitive gathering of information, but a daily experience that inspires and moves your heart?
Dry spells have cropped up frequently in the trajectory of my Christian life. But I’ve come to realise that the above intimacy is wholly possible.
However, the ball is in our court. Will we create that emotional and mental space in our packed lives for Him to do precisely that?
HERE’S A THOUGHT
A starting point I’ve found really helpful is this: meditation.
You might be thinking… wait a minute, isn’t meditation something that Christians don’t do?
Believe it or not, the Bible is full of references to meditation. Let me list a few of my favourite ones:
- Psalm 1:2 (ESV) – “…his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night”.
- Joshua 1:8 (ESV) – “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.”
- Philippians 4:8 (ESV) – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think (logizesthe, meaning meditate on) about these things.”
It’s not something that gets discussed a lot, but I’ve learnt that Christian meditation isn’t about emptying your mind and detaching yourself from reality.
Instead, it’s about filling it with a deeper attachment to God and His truths.
Meditation is simply taking time out daily to sit with the Lord and contemplate so that we hear and obey Him. It requires active listening and obedience to God’s Word that leads to real-life transformation.
Let me share from my own experience. I’m someone who finds it extremely difficult to stay still.
Ask my family and friends – they will know me as someone who is always busy and trying to accomplish a number of things efficiently at any one point of time.
When I eventually ran dry and burned out, I found myself crippled. I was like a car whose fuel tank had ran dry.
And then, while reading Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, I learnt about meditation. The concept was simple, but the execution was way more difficult.
At first blush, I was uneasy with the idea. Sitting still sounded boring, tough and like a waste of time.
But then it occurred to me, why was I so resistant to sit still with the God I claimed to love? I never hesitate to spend time with those closest to me. I realised there was a discrepancy in my attitude towards God.
WHAT HELPED ME
For a month, aside from devotional time, I spent 30 minutes before dinner to sit still by my window (without my phone and laptop) to do one of the following:
- Meditate on a Bible verse or a psalm: Turning it over in my head and admiring it, contemplating each word (like an artwork) and asking God how it might apply to me.
- Recollecting the details of the day with palms down and palms up.
- Palms down: Recalling the fears/anxieties I need to surrender into God’s hands and the sins I need to repent of.
- Palms up: Asking for God’s help and intervention in areas of struggle.
- Contemplating my surroundings: Sitting with the Lord of all creation to admire what He has made and given.
The point of the above was not to get some cognitive insight or reach a eureka moment (though those may indeed come along). It was to create an unhurried space for God to speak as I sat at His feet (Luke 10:38-42).
The simple act of availing time to sit with Him grew my relationship with Him. “Emmanuel, God with us” became not just a pithy, pious phrase I said during Christmas, but a reality.
I count the discipline of Christian meditation as one of the key baby steps taken last year that empowered me to live as God’s child – not God’s employee or specialist.
Don’t rest easy with getting by on an arms-length relationship with God.
Laying down my handphone, closing my laptop, stopping my academic intake just to be with Jesus rewired my brain. As I practised it daily, it grounded in me a new mental reflex of turning to an ever-present God.
For instance, when stressful situations cropped up in the past, I never responded instinctively with prayer. Prayer came as perhaps the third or fourth thought after worrying and brainstorming.
But in times of anxiety, I started to find myself gravitating immediately to the image of Him sitting by my side since I practised being conscious of His presence.
Soon, I found new energy began to build within me to consider His Words throughout the day. A new boldness started to take root to obey Him in areas where it once felt burdensome.
Don’t run on empty any longer. And don’t rest easy with getting by on an arms-length relationship with God.
Would you start creating a space in your daily life to be still and sit with God, your Father?
THINK + TALK
- What word best describes the reality of your relationship with God? Employee, specialist or child?
- In your opinion, what are the marks of a godly Christian whom God would delight in?
- How can you create unhurried space in your life to allow God to speak to you?