A World of Drought
Drought. We hear this word tossed about in the news regularly this summer. Lake Mead is at its lowest levels ever, threatening the water supply and power supply to the western part of the United States. Lake Michigan is getting so low in the summertime that the Chicago River could start to run backwards and drain into the lake rather than the lake drain out the river. The price of hay in Idaho is double because there was no rain to grow much hay in the spring. And in some counties of our own state, the corn is all curled and Des Moines Water Works has implemented a water shortage plan.
But even in this dry year which lacks the usual rain, forests across our nation are successfully working to protect themselves from the devastating heat and evaporation caused by the sun. You see a forest system works together; large, mature trees with deeper roots which are more able to pull every last drop of moisture from the ground shade the younger, more tender, and vulnerable trees. Not only do the largest trees protect the immature trees from the scorching sun, but their roots, all intertwined underneath the soil, actually share water and sugars with trees unable to nourish themselves in these difficult drought years. As a system, a forest all works together for mutual survival.
Our Spiritual Drought
Now turning our attention to ourselves, and our spiritual state – I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that many of us are experiencing a spiritual drought as we come out of a year of pandemic and are still waiting for life to return to any kind of rhythm. Before Covid, we went to work Monday through Friday, played or did projects on Saturday, and went to church on Sunday. We had routines set for prayer and Bible reading, and meeting with our Sunday school classes or Discipleship groups. But now without these rhythms and regular times with God to feed our souls, we find ourselves dry. To make things worse, the scorching heat of culture around us has intensified and reading the news or scrolling through social media seems to zap the very life out of us like never before. And the result is that many of us are spiritually dry. We are trying to survive a time like no other as 2020 and 2021 have been some tough drought years for many of us.
So what are we to do? I believe we need to learn from these forest systems and recognize that we survive dry times better together than we do alone. A single tree in a field receives no shade from other trees and no deep roots to share nutrients. It is alone. And for a tree to survive all on it’s own is challenging and even takes a bit of luck. That’s why lone trees in the middle of a field are a rare sight compared to a grouping of trees growing and surviving together.
Thinking you can survive this spiritual drought all by yourself is foolish. It leaves you exposed. You risk drying out completely or being blown over by the heavy winds of life. Perhaps you think to yourself, “But I have deep roots. I have a strong faith in Jesus and I don’t need community to survive.” However, what if YOUR survival is not what is at stake? What if the survival of all the immature trees depending on the shade you offer and the nourishment you provide, even in these dry times, is at risk by you not being there?
You see, those who are newer to their faith need older, wiser, more mature people in their lives to continue to feed and shade them from a world and culture that is looking to take everything out of them. And the spiritually mature need to understand all they have to offer and find ways to provide that protection and nourishment to those who need it. When we find ways to connect, to bring the mature and the immature together, then like a forest system, as the church, we can all survive this dry moment in time.
How to Weather the Drought Together
I believe most of you reading this article understand the importance of all of us working together and the benefits of mature and the immature Christians coming together. Where we struggle is finding ways to actually do this. So here are a few suggestions of how we can truly connect, share, and nourish one another in these challenging times:
- Come to Church – Friendship is a gift from God. But if none of your friends are Christians, then the spiritual nourishment your soul longs for will never be satisfied by those friends. That’s where connection with the church family becomes so important. But it’s hard to build friendships with others in your church family when you never see anybody face to face or have opportunity to create even basic relationships.
- Share a Meal – Meals provide physical nourishment as well as provide the opportunity for you to spiritually nourish those at your table. Invite somebody to join you for a meal after church and ask what God is doing their life.
- Check in On Others – While it is easier to check in with one another when we all see each other in the church foyer, that is not the world we live in any longer. Many are not yet returning to the church building, but that doesn’t mean they should feel forgotten. And perhaps you haven’t yet returned to the building, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still connect. Write a note or text, call somebody, setup a coffee date or a zoom call with someone you haven’t seen for awhile. Don’t let anybody be a lone tree.
- Join a Discipleship Group – More than ever before, I believe discipleship groups are the way forward for our spiritual maturity. Intentionally setting aside time every week to discuss your own spiritual state and the matters of the heart offers you the drink of fresh water from God that you need. Many say they don’t have the time for a discipleship group, but when your spiritual life depends on finding the next drop of fresh water, I say you can’t afford NOT to make the time. If you are interested in joining a group today, let us know.