A Strange Place
I’m in a strange place…
I’m in a room with no light, yet it isn’t dark.
I’m standing in a crowd of people, yet no one is there.
Everything around me looks familiar, yet nothing is the same.
I have so much to say and so much to share, yet the words I need are elusive and seemingly just beyond my “mind’s eye.”
I know that God is in my heart, yet I don’t feel His presence.
I’m me, but I’m not me. I’m afraid. I’m frustrated. I’m alone. I’m sad. I’m desperately trying to get out of this strange place. I’m trying to get back on the path; the path that’s illuminated by His light. I’ve been this way, been in this strange place, for the last month. I long to feel the way that I’ve felt for the last four years, since that day in August of 2006 when I was born again.
“GOD, where are You?” I cry out, trapped in my self-made mental prison.
I blamed where I was, and how I felt, on being “burned out.” I’d been working hard, and had extended myself a bit too much, or as some like to say, I had “spread myself a bit too thin.” We’d had several personnel changes in our business. We hadn’t had a vacation in two years. Between my wife Jackie, and our family, and work, and church, and The Seed of Hope, there never seemed to be time for rest. Oh, did I forget to mention chasing after God every day, trying to love Him more, and to know Him more, and to see His face more, and to serve Him more? And along the way, trying to be the best Christian that I could possibly be, which we know isn’t always that easy?
Yep, I was burned out, plain and simple.
Eleven days away from our salon, off with Jackie, and spending some time with our family, would do the trick. There would be some quiet time, which meant time for reflection and prayer. I’d reconnect with God, and rekindle that flame for Him that always burns inside, and everything would be great.
A couple of days off and I’d be good as new. I’d crank out some stuff for The Seed of Hope and tell you how great I felt, and how good life was, and how I’d found the compassion that was missing, and how I’d recaptured my “lust for life.”
It didn’t happen.
Don’t get me wrong; it was such a blessing to be “unplugged” and away with Jackie for a while, as it always is. God certainly smiled on me when He put Jackie in my life…
During that time we were able to visit our son Brian and his wife Christina in Virginia, and upon our return spend some time at the lake with our younger son Christian, his wife Amber, and our grandchildren Stephen and Isabella. We had a great time with all of them, made some lasting memories, and experienced several “Kodak Moments.”
There was indeed time for reading, prayer, and meditation.
We even had the opportunity to host a small church group in our home on Saturday night, and then attend church with our kids the next day. I’ll admit that I did indeed feel God’s presence during both, but not with the intensity that I’ve become accustomed to. And soon as each came to a close, the feeling of God’s nearness was gone. Just like that.
“What’s going on?” I asked time after time. “Have I done something wrong?” “Have I lost my passion for God completely?” “Did someone put a curse on my prayer chair?” “Am I missing something here?”
If you’re thinking that I was alarmed, well, you’re exactly right! I was very alarmed. You see, I remember what it’s like to walk without God’s presence, and I can’t even bring myself to think about my life without Him in it.
The last day…
Today is Tuesday, the last day of our vacation. I woke up at 5:15 this morning to attend a men’s small group through church that meets in our salon each week at 6:15. I went to that small group still looking for the answer to the question “God, where are you?”
I felt God’s presence during the meeting, but again, without the intensity to which I’ve become accustomed. And just as before, when the meeting was over the feeling was gone.
I went back home to have coffee with Jackie, and to share our reading of today’s passages from The One Year Bible guide published by Church of the Highlands here in Birmingham. I was hoping to find a nugget of truth in The Word that might provide some answers to my questions. No such luck; the readings were from 1 Chronicles, Acts, Psalms, and Proverbs. While I enjoying reading all of the passages, none of them gave me any insight into my problem.
Next I turned to The One Year walk with God Devotional, written by Chris Tiegreen. I actually needed to read the messages from the past two days, because we didn’t take the time to read them yesterday.
Both days were devoted to the same passage, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, and despite its length, I’m gonna share all of it with you.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Thank you Solomon for writing Ecclesiastes.
Thank you, Chris Tiegreen, for writing The One Year walk with God.
Thank you God, for leading me to both writings.
A Dry Season
If you think about the passage for a moment, you’ll realize that there is indeed a time, a season for everything, and with those seasons, come change. While some of the “times” mentioned may not apply to us literally, they all certainly do in a figurative sense; all of them. Some of these seasons are filled with God’s Abundance, and oh so sweet, while some are everything but.
I’ve heard of people going through spiritual “dry seasons.” During these times, prayers don’t seem to be as powerful, meaningful, or in many cases, necessary at all. Relationships suffer. Life isn’t as “sweet.” Priorities change. God seems to be distant.
I believe, (and I pray that I’m right) that I’m going through one of those dry seasons right now. The funny thing is that every time I heard warnings about dry seasons, I always thought “That’ll never happen to me. I pray every morning, and I go after God every day, and I’m a soldier of Christ, and I’m a light that shines for Him, and I’m always vigilant against attacks from the enemy.”
Yet here I sit, in my prayer chair, struggling to get through this now identified dry season. At least I know what it is! God is still here…with me…in me. I haven’t done anything wrong. I haven’t lost my passion for Him, or my love for people. I’m not missing anything.
And I’m not giving any credit to Satan for this. I didn’t stumble, or fall, or go astray. This is not his handiwork at all.
What I’m going through right now is a gift from God. He has seen fit to give me another season of change, and when I get through this (I will get through it!) I’m gonna be one step closer to Him and one step closer to fulfilling His plan for me.
I apologize for the length of today’s post, but as is often the case, as I’ve written I’ve learned even more about myself, life, and God’s Way.
And if I haven’t done so in a while, I want to thank you for accompanying me on this journey. And I pray that, even if in a very small way, it helps you on yours.
See you next week!