Watering Your Soul
The Dog Days of Summer have been upon us. Many areas of our district have been suffering with drought-like conditions. I hear reports of cities (including Billings) putting restrictions on water usage so as to conserve water and/or save overextending equipment needed to replenish fresh water. Recently, I took this picture while traveling to a church board meeting. It struck me because as I had been driving down the interstate I saw super-green fields with beautiful crops and then all of a sudden you’d see these brown or what appeared to be dead fields of grass with nothing on them. No doubt you have seen these too. As I rolled down the interstate further I got off at an exit and took this picture as a reminder of just how important it is to prioritize watering the soil of our souls — especially in challenging seasons.
The natural reaction to ______________________ (fill in the blank, challenges, heartaches, good things, bad things, discouragement, setbacks, problems, etc.) can be to coast or quit inside, to give up or “mail it in.” Yet it is in the hard times of life and ministry that we need to lean in all the more to make sure the soil of our souls doesn’t look like the left side of the picture, but rather the right side. Recently, some new neighbors from a state that often has water bans, turned off their underground sprinklers. I don’t want to be harsh, but, their yard looks terrible! Some other new neighbors have not kept up their yard as the previous owners did, and their yard is full of weeds and looks pretty sad too. It’s not easy to keep a yard up when the water is sparse and the weeds are many — but it can be done — often through hard work or a large water bill. In any event, there is a cost!
So, too, there is a cost in keeping the “spiritual water” on during hard times, difficult times, challenging times. Spending quality time seeking the Lord through prayer, His Word, speaking with other spiritually minded people is not always easy. It takes effort to quiet ourselves before the Lord, just be in His presence, not talking, not asking for things, but just being willing to be quiet and listen and wait.
Over the past twelve months, Lori and I had to navigate some challenges in our family that were, from our perspective, not our doing. It was deeply painful, personal, and filled with many times of tears, sorrow and sadness. We ended up having to do things we could never have imagined doing to work our way through the mess. Recently, there was a change in the situation that, while not fun to go through, enabled us to see some, though not total, resolution to the main problem. As we came through “the other side” of the situation I wrote that this was “a story we never wanted to write but we are thankful to the Lord for the things we probably would not have learned any other way.”
Friends, I don’t know all the challenges you are facing right now — ministry, family, struggling with your call, finances, health concerns, relationships, on and on the list could go. While I may not know the specifics, I do know this — you have a choice, as do I! We can choose to go it alone or with God and His people. If we go with God and His people, we’ll be like the field on the right, watered, thriving, doing and being what we’re supposed to do and be — even in the midst of drought and challenge. It won’t be easy, but much like the Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, we can say, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” If we choose to “ gut it out,” or go on our own path or way without the Lord, we have the very real possibility of becoming like the field on the left, or the terrible brown yard of our neighbor, with burned up grass, that is unrecognizable from last year, or the weedy yard of our other neighbor that was also once thriving and lush.
Might I encourage you, as I do myself, in these “dog days of summer,” to make it a priority, and make time, to drink in from the Lord and water the soil of your soul. For your sake. For the sake of the Lord. For the sake of your family. For the sake of your ministry. For the sake of the lost!