Dry times result when we do not actively pursue our relationship with Jesus. When we are busy with other things. When we are preoccupied, distracted, maybe even "doing" ministry. We just aren't making time for Him, pursuing a relationship with Him, and/or communicating and listening to Him.
Dry times are something I can change. I am in control of how long these times last. I can resolve these times by getting back on my face before God, by rekindling that relationship, by returning to Him.
Malachi 3:7 (NIV) "Return to me and I will return to you."
James 4:8 (NIV) Come near to God and He will come near to you."
He is there waiting for me. I just have to take the first step. I do not have to be in the dry place longer than what I allow myself to be. It is not that He is being silent during these times... it is that I am not listening.
Dark times, on the other hand, often occur when we are seeking the Lord and occupied with Him, yet we feel our prayers bounce off the ceiling. Silence.
These times tend to lead to statements like, "God, Where are you?, Why aren't you speaking? Why can't I feel you? Why can't I see you? It is so dark."
In her book "Listening for God", Marilyn Hontz shares that these are the times He uses to teach us to depend on Him for who he is and not how we feel about him. This time forces us to trust the Lord alone and not our feelings.
"God often speaks loudest in His silence. These times can be spiritually enriching." -- Marilyn HontzSo how do these dark times spiritually enrich my life? How does God speak loudest during these times?
Is it because I have to listen so very quietly, to look so very carefully, to strain to see one sign, to work so hard to feel one little thing of Him? And why do I depend on my feelings so much anyway?
Then truth makes itself known.
I can't depend on my feelings. I must depend on Him for who He is. I must trust in Him based on what I know of Him and His character.
The only place I can learn about Him, who He is, and His character... is in His word, the Bible. Could it be that these times of "silence" (no feelings) are so spiritually enriching because these are the times that drive me hard into His word?
When things seem to be going well, when all is as it should be, when I'm "feeling" Him and His presence, do I pursue Him in his word like I do when He's quiet? Do I read until I find a truth? Do I crave for any new insight from Him? Do I examine my world under a microscope looking for the smallest of signs that He is still around, that He exists, that He still cares?
I would have to say that during the "good" times I read His word with more of an "amen, uh-huh, beautiful, absolutely right" type of attitude.
During the dark times I read, study, take apart, and digest everything I can looking for some truth, some encouragement, something to hold on to, to cling to, to be a promise for my heart alone.
I long to learn something about Him and who He is and will be for me... something new about His character.
Maybe that's why these dark times come? Times when I need to be driven into Him... hard.
I can't determine the length of these times. He knows what I need to learn. He knows what I need to see. He knows what changes need to occur in my heart and spirit before I can come out on the other side.
My only choices in the "dark times" are either to continue with Him, pursuing this life as he has called me to live it... OR to give it up and lose all that I have, everything I've worked for. This life must be one of daily obedience, surrender, and commitment.
I can choose to follow at all costs, or not. The choices are pretty simple really.
"I know it is lonely, but keep going! You will come out of that dark, long tunnel with a deeper knowledge of God. This is a time when, in faith, you love him purely for who you know him to be - not just for what he can do for you or how he makes you feel. Continue to pursue God." -- Marilyn HontzI believe I can be in a dry time. I believe I can be in a dark time. I believe to be in either place "feels" the same... silence, alone, dark, desperate.
When I am there... in either one of those places... I must determine in my heart which place it is.
Am I in the dry place? Dry because I haven't been spending time with Him? If so, I need to reconcile that!
Am I in a dark place? I know I am spending time with Him, I know I am moving forward in obedience...and yet He seems so distant. During these times I've got to hold on for dear life, to persevere, and to trust Him for who I KNOW (not feel!) Him to be.
The beauty of either of these places? They should each drive me hard into His Word, prayer and pursuing HIM!!