For about four long weeks, during the hottest part of a hot summer, rain avoided Adams County in south-central Pennsylvania, where I live. The broiling sun toasted our lawns brown and turned the blades of grass brittle and spiky. The lush green of the trees dulled and the branches and stems drooped. Here and there especially distressed trees changed color, bringing October yellow into August. Some trees dropped leaves.
Our spiritual lives can be like that. We require a steady supply of God’s living water to keep our spirits lush, supple, pleasing, healthy and vibrant.
Our souls need God’s Holy water, which alone can quench our deepest thirsts. Without it, we die. Psalm 42 reminds us:
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
But every spiritual life knows drought. Some dry seasons are brought on by worldly problems, crises and misfortune that cause us to withdraw, like a tortoise, into ourselves. Our despair, frustration and pain can form a shell that isolates us from God.
We sometimes bring dry seasons upon ourselves by wandering away from the sources of God’s water, following the paths of our own selfish desires, or by trusting in our own direction rather than the Holy One’s. Have you stopped coming to church? Stopped praying nightly or reading Scripture regularly? Begun believing that you can get along just fine without God? Have you embraced habits unpleasing to God?
All of us have, and do, at one time or another. And like hikers who continue down the wrong path unawares, we can be lost well before we realize we are lost. But we know we are in trouble when our souls have become parched, brown and brittle.
Thirsting for God is normal and healthy. God created us this way in order that we may drink and find comfort when worldly troubles assail us. Our thirst helps keep us rooted close to the sources of God’s Holy water: prayer, church, Scripture, sacraments and community. If you feel dry in your soul, come to those places and drink.
Adams County knew four weeks of drought. But then the rain came. First a thunderstorm sent down torrents of water. Not long afterward a daylong gentle shower gave the earth a good soaking. Rainfall has been normal since.
The grass is green and lush again. The trees have brightened up, their leaves shiny and verdant anew.
Can it be this way with a dry and dusty soul? Psalm 23 tells us:
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
Copyright (c) 2010, the Rev. Rob Blezard. All rights reserved.
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