After the Drought

 It's hard to describe a drought to someone who has never lived on the smallest example of a farm. It carries a weight with it that townsfolk find difficult to understand. It's wearying to the soul to look out one's window and see the once lush green paddocks dried up to hard-packed earth, with spindly brown stalks of grass the only fodder left for animals to forage from. The sun is orange-gold, and the cicadas sing like a death rattle in the sky. The trees drop their leaves, and they blow around in the harsh wind, whipped up with the dust and seeds long since left behind by the last rain. Animals grow thin and hungry, and money is spent on good feed for them; or even not-so-good hay, anything to keep them going. Water is used sparingly on the more important plants, and heaven forbid you see anyone throwing a cigarette or playing with matches near the dry stubble. Working in the sun is hard, hot labour, and the sweat rolls down your spine inside your shirt, dampening your clothes and soaking your hair beneath your hat. With heavy breathing, one often squints at the western horizon under a shading hand, hoping for the glimpse of a cloud or even a haze that may be a sign of coming rain. It's a waiting game, and the longer the wait, the harder the strain, and the heavier the burden of weariness becomes.

It's no coincidence then that the term "drought" can often be applied to certain stages of one's walk with God.

Last year, for a great many months, I experienced one of the driest and most difficult spiritual droughts I have ever been through. Looking back on it, I can see just how accurately it mirrored a real drought.

This tour through the desert made its entry with doubt. It was as if the devil opened the vault of my deepest, darkest doubts and fears that I thought were long dead and buried, and unleashed them upon me all at once. Honestly, anything and everything that could possibly be doubted (even my own existence - yeah, that bad) I struggled, wrestled, and slaved over for weeks. My brain felt like a dark cloud had settled inside of it, and my heart felt as if it were attached to a ball and chain. Everything spiritual lost its flavour, in fact, I recall those months to memory in black and white, not colour. I felt so spiritually dry; reading the Bible became as if I were staring at a blank chalkboard, and I seemed physically unable to even enjoy music - one of my greatest passions. I questioned my God, my identity, my salvation; everything that came to mind was filled with doubt, disbelief and questioning. I lost my joy. My optimism. I barely clung to hope.

However I think the worst thing of all, was losing the desire to praise God. I went to church week after week and stood in the congregation with a heart that felt as solid and cold as a rock. I felt the heavy weight of judgement standing on the stage to play music for worship on Sunday mornings, the word "hypocrite" screaming in my ears. I mourned over it. I prayed with heartbroken tears on my knees. I knew the truth, and I told myself constantly that I knew what it was. It drove me to the Word, even though I could barely take away a verse at a time in my parched state. I was completely and utterly lost in a desert sea of disillusionment. It was difficult to sleep, even more difficult to think, because thinking led to a quicksand of questioning thoughts. I also found it hard to believe I was even in this situation. My walk with God had been going so well; but it seemed that after a string of hardships, I was to be run into the ground by hammering doubts. I was so tired and fatigued. All I could do was hang on to God with all that was left in me, and pray it would pass.

Amazingly, even in that darkest spiritual time, God extended His abundant grace and mercy to me. I can't count the amount of times where I was encouraged by a friend, a stranger, a book opened at random, a song gifted through iTunes, or a message at church. Even when my heart was rebelling, and my head was doubting and questioning, God's incredible love reached out to me through everything around me. A perfect day, with beautiful sunshine. A smile from Dad. A hug from my Mum. A sibling's delight to share something with me. A heart to heart with a dear cousin. A present out of the blue from a close friend. Every little tiny thing that blessed me made my eyes fill with tears, and I would cry - I would cry with delight at the rediscovery of God through His loving me, and I would cry because I couldn't feel anything. The numbness was so intense, that I could only grope through the dark of my soul trying to find remnants of the awe and love I once had for my incredible God. Honestly, I would not wish this barrenness on my worst enemy.

But the amazing thing about droughts, is that they never stay. They never last, nor remain indefinitely. Every drought ends with rain, and I believe God used this drought to prepare me for such a flood.

Slowly, God drew me out of that desert of doubt and disbelief. During my upward crawl towards His face again, I attended a Christian conference in Queensland. After one of the meetings, they opened the floor for people to be prayed for. I very much had a heart to know God's will for my life at this point in time, and I had begun to bury the doubts I had just been through, when I felt compelled to ask for prayer since the minister had touched on disbelief in his message. Standing in front of a kind lady, I asked for prayer, and for God's help in conquering unbelief. She looked me in the eye and said gently, "You really think this disbelief has a hold on you, don't you? You fear you won't ever be free of it." I broke down and cried. I was amazed that God had shown this woman exactly what I needed prayer for, and I have never felt such a burden lift from my shoulders as it did after she prayed for me. She hugged me, and as I walked away drying my eyes, I had never felt so free.

I have a taste of how Nebuchadnezzar must have felt when he was restored to his kingdom after living like an animal for so long. It is so wonderful to have a hunger for God's Word again, to feel His presence close, and His Spirit stirring within my heart. What a blessing and privilege it is to feel things. Emotions have become so much more beautiful to me. To be able to sing at the top of my voice to my Saviour and mean it with my whole heart - what a mercy it is to praise the One Who saved me! I have found such a companionship and joy in taking long walks to pray, or curling up in my bed at night to read over Scripture and books that urge me on in my walk. To feel the glow of His love within me as I share His Word with others, and encouraging my siblings in Christ has become a cherished feeling. Though I still have moments where the devil tries to taunt me, I'm grateful God puts a kind hand beneath my chin to tilt my gaze towards His face again. Sometimes things become so much more sweeter for having lost them for a time, and you appreciate them in a whole new way. I can't tell you how grateful I am for the grace and mercy of our precious Lord and Saviour for bringing me out of that drought; that He flooded my soul once again with a greater revelation of Who He is, and an awareness of His presence. It is true. God works all things together for good for those who love Him (Rom. 8:28).

I wanted to share this testimony with you to encourage you. I know that many of you may be struggling through tough situations and hard circumstances. Some of you may have experienced a detour through the desert in your walk with God, or perhaps your relationship with God is as strong as ever. If the latter, please don't take what you have for granted. That peace is an intrinsically precious gift from God, and we should praise Him for it. However if your life is currently in a dark valley, please take heart. This dark time, it will end. Look around - your Father in Heaven is there with you; look for His love in the little things. He is the One carrying you through, and "through" is where He'll take you. The storm never lasts, the darkness never remains, and the drought is not forever. Don't quit. Trust God. No matter what, the seas will calm, the sun will rise, and the blessed rain will fall once again.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Lord God is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the high hills.
- Hab. 3:17-18

You, O God, did send a plentiful rain; You did restore and confirm Your heritage when it languished and was weary.
- Ps. 68:9

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  1. * is teary and hugs Jasmine hard * Thankyou for such sweet encouragement, lovely. I have seen such tremendous spiritual growth in you this past year. While you may feel that you were struggling with your walk in God, let me assure you that I saw Him shining through you every time I met you. He shines when we aren't shiny. :) I love you heaps. xoxox

  2. *hugs Emily dear back* Thankyou so much, Emily. That means so very much to me to hear you say that. You are such a sweet blessing of a friend, and please know that the same God shines very clearly through you too, hon. :) "He shines when we aren't shiny"... That's awesome. :D Love you very much. xox

  3. Thank you for sharing what God showed you, BushMaid! I'm glad that He brought you out of the drought. :)


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