Category Archives: Making Life Matter

Spiritually Dry: When you’re doing All The Spiritual Things… and He still feels far away.

Do you ever feel like you're in a spiritual desert even when you're actively pursuing God? Ever feel dead tired spiritually — even as you’re trying to follow Jesus? Me too. Then I found a beautiful (and surprising) encouragement tucked away in the Scriptures. The truths in those words have re awakened my life and changed everything. Find strength for your faith in this quick read.

Do you ever feel like you’re in a spiritual desert even when you’re actively pursuing God? Ever feel dead tired spiritually — even as you’re trying to follow Jesus? Me too. Then I found a beautiful (and surprising) encouragement tucked away in the Scriptures. The truths in those words have re-awakened my hope. It’s changed everything.

It all started in the book of Joshua. I read about when the Lord stopped the flow of the Jordan River so the Israelites (and the Ark of the Covenant) could cross.

And my brain exploded a little.

Okay, before we get to the brain explosion, let me bring you up to speed. After the Israelites crossed the river, the Lord instructed them to set up a memorial using stones taken from the bottom of the Jordan riverbed (where the Ark was held on dry ground as the people crossed). Here’s a quick excerpt from the account:

[Joshua] said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what He had done to the Red Sea when He dried it up before us until we had crossed over.” – Joshua 4:21-23

Did you see it?

He dried it up.

The Lord dried up a path through the Red Sea until they had crossed over.

And He dried up a path through the Jordan River until they had crossed over.

Okay, okay, so the Lord did the same thing in two places. Big deal, right? But, oh man, I relate to the two places in very different ways — and it’s rocking my world (cue brain explosion). Think about it with me:

Start with the Red Sea. We often associate the sea with “the wind and the waves.” You know, life’s struggles. Spiritually speaking, drying a path through the sea evokes images of the Lord making a way through trials, hardship, or distractions. That makes sense. (Also sounds insane and miraculous. But it makes sense because it sounds like something our loving, powerful God would do.)

But now come to the Jordan River. Unlike the sea, we usually associate a river with life and joy. Let the river flow. Streams of mercy. The river of life. But here, God stopped the flow of the river. He dried it up before them. And a dried up river is pretty much exactly how I feel when I say, “I feel spiritually dry,” or “I’m in a dry season.”

Now, sometimes that dry season comes because I’ve been disobedient or stopped investing in spiritual disciplines (reading my Bible, prayer, and worship to name a few) that draw me near to the source of abundant life, God Himself.

But sometimes I’m doing all these things and I still feel spiritually dry.

Today, I see a new possibility. Perhaps the Lord Himself has dried it up before me until I cross over. Cross over what? I don’t know. Not yet, anyway. But, being dried up because I walked away from God, and being dried up because God’s hand is holding back the flow even while I walk toward Him, are two entirely different things.

You see, the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years because of disobedience. I’ve known that kind of dried up ground. (Not 40 years’ worth, thank goodness.) Crossing the Jordan River was different. There, they were exactly where they were supposed to be, doing exactly what they were supposed to do. They weren’t in sin. They weren’t walking away from God. The Israelites were walking in obedience. AND BECAUSE OF THAT, the Lord dried up the river until they had crossed over.

I must walk through some circumstances or seasons with Jesus WITHOUT THE FLOW OF THE RIVER, but on DRIED UP GROUND, simply in obedience; simply in pursuit of God Himself.

Why?

“He did this so all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” Joshua 4:24

So I’ll know Him, love Him, revere Him more.

It’s lovely to know and love God when the river is flowing. It is something more to also know Him on dried up ground — and through to the other side.

I wonder if anyone else, like me, has found themselves on dried up ground EVEN WHILE pursuing Jesus, serving Him, practicing spiritual disciplines that normally would lead to a rich experience of feeling connected to God — a river of “spiritual flow.” And perhaps when it began to feel instead like dried up ground, we let go of some spiritual practices. I mean, they stopped being “effective” anyway, right?

Well, I guess that depends on how we define effective.

If effective means I FEEL close to God (river flowing), then no. I guess spiritual disciplines aren’t always effective.

But if effective means I AM close to God (whether I feel like it or not), then like the Israelites, I can be on dried up ground right in the middle of His presence and His will.

Okay, okay — dried up ground, flowing river.. who even cares!? Does it really even matter!?

Well, maybe not. But, do I worship HIM or the flow? Do I know and trust Him in the flow and on dried up ground?

Because THAT MATTERS.

I invite you to return to the riverbed. And if you find it all dried up, don’t be discouraged. He is waiting for you there.

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Guest Post: Embracing The Race

I’d like to introduce you to Lisa Preuett. When I met her a couple of years ago at a writer’s conference, we discovered we had running in common as well as writing! She had a devotional in the works at the time, and the early drafts she shared totally resonated with my runner’s heart. If you know me, you know I’ve always been moved by the parallels between running and my relationship with Jesus. Well, the devotional that was “in the works” is now a reality. Lisa is guest posting here today, and whether you’re a runner or not, her new book, Embracing The Race: 40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul, is sure to speak to your soul too.

“What’s your pace?”

This is a common question you’ll hear frequently among runners. It’s also a number you must sometimes enter on race registration forms. It’s easy to obsess about exactly how long it takes one to cover the distance of a mile.

Early in my running journey, I quickly realized that everyone runs a different pace. Some bolt out like a flash of lightning, determined to win the race. Others fall into the “back of the pack” category, bringing up the rear. And in between these two extremes are a myriad of other paces.

Could I run at a faster pace at the start of a long race? Absolutely! But could I maintain that pace throughout the rest of the race? Not a chance. If I started out sprinting with all my might, I’d quickly drain myself of the energy I need to reach the finish line.

My determination is focused on finishing the race at my own unique pace, not trying to keep up with someone else.

Maybe you’re not a runner and can’t relate to the race environment. Perhaps you have no intentions of ever lacing up running shoes.

But runner or not, you are running a race.

In Hebrews 12:1-2, Paul depicts the Christian life as a race. He urges us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.”

The Christian life is a long distance race we are called to live one step at a time. There are obstacles. Hills to climb.  Sometimes we are running quickly at a smooth pace. Other times we hit the wall and feel like giving up before we reach the finish line.

Jesus started the race with us and is also waiting at the finish line.  No medal or cash prize could ever come close to the eternal joy we will experience when we see Him face to face.

There are so many powerful parallels between running and our faith journey with Jesus! They paint vivid pictures of what we encounter in this race called life.

Embracing The Race: 40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul, will awaken your mind to these parallels. You’ll be equipped with scripture, encouraged to persevere and inspired with determination. You’ll be challenged to plunge deeper in your walk with God!My book, Embracing The Race: 40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul, will awaken your mind to these parallels. You’ll be equipped with scripture, encouraged to persevere and inspired with determination. You’ll be challenged to plunge deeper in your walk with God!

Each day’s reading will give you a peek into the runner’s world, a fresh Biblical insight, practical life application, soul-searching reflections and a heart-felt prayer.

Kyle Idleman, best-selling author of Not a Fan says this about the book:

Honest and fun to read, you’ll find encouragement and challenge that come from Bible passages and through the language of a runner. If you’re a runner, you’ll love this book. If you’re not a runner, there is plenty here for you, too.”

Embracing The Race releases on November 14th and is available here on Amazon in paperback and Kindle version.

Lisa Preuett is a follower of Jesus, wife and mom of two. An avid runner, she’s completed multiple races from 5K to full marathon. Actively involved in women’s ministry, she thrives on encouraging others in their faith. She resides in Taylorsville, KY. You can connect with her at www.reststopforthesoul.comLisa Preuett is a follower of Jesus, wife and mom of two. An avid runner, she’s completed multiple races from 5K to full marathon. Actively involved in women’s ministry, she thrives on encouraging others in their faith. She resides in Taylorsville, KY. You can connect with her at www.reststopforthesoul.com

You can only carry yourself so far, Warrior.

I went to a women’s conference this weekend. It was the Belong Tour, and to be honest I only bought a ticket because I was SO. EXCITED. TO SEE JEN HATMAKER! There were other amazing women there as well, and Glennon from Momastery even made a guest appearance! The whole weekend was funny and touching; I laughed, I cried… you know the drill.

But, can I be really honest here? I didn’t come away feeling the way I expected. On the surface, I should’ve come away feeling inspired, challenged, pepped up. Instead, I was left wanting. Maybe even let down

I stewed over my feelings. Was I just being overly critical?

The weekend was full of incredible women telling me inspiring things. Honestly, it felt like a big warm bath of positivity. We can do hard things! You belong! You have what it takes! God won’t ever give you more than you can handle! All the love you’re looking for is right there inside of you! But you guys. As wonderful as it feels, if I sit too long in a warm bath of positivity, I will gradually be lulled to sleep.

And drown.

What I realized is quite simple: I really don’t need another pep talk. I don’t need someone to keep telling me how awesome I am. I know it’s weird – what woman doesn’t want to keep hearing she is strong, she is brave, she is capable, she is a world changer? But that’s where my “let-down” feeling came in: I believe it is a great disservice to promise courage, strength, and belonging without a clear and formal introduction to the One who can deliver on those promises. I AM NOT MY OWN DELIVERER.

I heard Glennon Doyle Melton from Momastery & Jen Hatmaker speak this weekend at the Belong Tour! So much encouragement! So much empowerment! Inspiration and quotes galore. But there was also something else important. And I didn't even see it coming. Ladies, we don’t just need more pep rallies and positive self-talk. We need our foundation strengthened. We need to know how to study the Bible – God’s Word – so we may recognize in other’s words what is true – and what is not. We need to know WHO MAKES US STRONG. We need to know that actually, God quite often DOES give me more than I can handle, but that He is there to offer His strength to walk me through it.

Christian women, I am speaking to you (myself included) here. I think some of us have become so enamored with these beautiful, good-willed, funny, inspirational women – who even talk about God!!! – that we have gradually, imperceptibly, begun to seek – and even find, although temporarily – life in their words.

You are loved. Yes, you are. God loves you – so much that He sacrificed His Son Jesus for you to have access to that love. THAT is the key. God loves you – and the access point for you to RECEIVE and EXPERIENCE the FULLNESS of that love is Jesus.

You can do hard things. Yes, you can. But where does your strength come from? I can do a lot in my own strength. You bet I can.  But by the strength of Jesus Christ in me, I can bear all things. If you have not experienced what it means to find your strength in Jesus, if you have gone from pep talk to pep talk, devouring book after book, blog post after blog post, inhaling every breath of earthly encouragement you can find, I invite you: Taste and see that the Lord is good! HE is the hero in this story!

You can only carry yourself so far, warrior. And hear me loud and clear: there is no shame in that. We can ALL only carry ourselves so far. THAT IS THE POINT. The victory isn’t in carrying yourself through the battle; the victory is in knowing the Victor: He who has already won the battle on your behalf.

You are strong, capable, and smart. Through a relationship with Jesus, you have access to the very Holy Spirit of God who breathed the Word of God onto the page. Are you studying His Word as devotedly as hers?

If your biggest dream is to be part of Glennon’s momastery or Jen’s tribe, go for it! But, if deep down what you long for is strength that can endure all things, peace that passes all understanding, a courageous heart that does not fear, and a source of active compassion that WILL NOT RUN DRY: then Jesus is who you’re looking for.