Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Drought Time

     With the heat index soaring to nearly 107 degrees, Florida is facing a time of drought.  Not all areas are as dry as others but it seems that those of us who live on the ridge (300 feet above sea level - the highest elevation in the state) are not receiving the much needed rain.  For the owners of orange groves and cattle ranches here in our area it poses other problems both for livestock as well as our famous citrus trees.  Each night, we can hear the hum of the water pumps in the groves doing their work of bringing life giving water to the trees.  However, what we really need are good soaking rains every day.  This would also ward off the high probability of wild fires which could devastate thousands of acres.
     Normally, our weather pattern produces an hour or two of daily showers followed by wonderful sunshine.  The rains cool the earth, wash over the plants and lower the temperature just a bit.  Instead, we have had long days of unrelenting heat.
      Every evening when I get home from work, I go outside to water my plants that appear wilted from the heat.  It is a task I do not mind as I am determined to provide them with relief until the rains come.  While I was engaged in this activity, I thought about the many times when the Lord had tended to my needs and watered my heart when it was dry and crusty.  Hardly anyone escapes those dry times in their life when it seems as though God has moved far away, and our prayers  bounce off the ceiling.  It is a time of spiritual drought.  In fact, one of God's greatest messengers went through a dry place from which he could not escape without the Lord's tender care.
     This story is told in I Kings chapters 18-19.  Elijah the prophet had a mighty show down with the prophets of Baal who had led the Children of Israel into great sin under the kingship of Ahab and his wife Jezebel.  After Elijah confronted these false prophets, the Lord performed a mighty miracle by consuming the sacrifice, the wood and even the stones that had been dampened with water by Elijah.  This mighty act brought the people evidence that it was God alone who was Lord and King.  Following this event, Elijah ran to Jezreel ahead of King Ahab.  When Ahab told Jezebel what had happened on the mountain, she sent a threatening message to the prophet telling him she would kill him for what he had done to the prophets of Baal.  This is where Elijah's drought begins.
     Upon hearing that the Queen wanted him dead, this mighty man of faith ran for his life to Beersheba some 130 miles away from Jezreel.  Such a journey would exhaust anyone.  Chapter 19, verse 4 reads:
"But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree.  And he asked that he might die, saying 'It is enough now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.'"  Certainly physical fatigue can skew the way we look at life and Elijah is no exception.  He had faced the prophets of Baal, run ahead of Ahab to Jezreel and then he ran out of fear to Beersheba.  Elijah was empty, worn out, and had lost his hope in the Lord.  Most of us can identify with this at some time or another.  Take, for example, a young mother with several children, a house to keep up, mouths to feed and maybe she has a job outside the home on top of all this,  Or consider a man who comes home from a tiring business trip to find several major repairs to his home that need his immediate attention.  We call it burn out.  No matter what name we give it, we feel an emptiness inside.
     God recognized the exhaustion in Elijah and in Chapter 19: 3-9, we read that Elijah slept.  Then the Lord sent angels to provide food for Him.  When he had rested and been nourished, the prophet traveled to Mount Horeb called the mount of God.  Here at this place, Elijah meets with the Lord.  Still, Elijah displayed his "drought" mentality as he whined to God that he was the only one left in all Israel who had remained faithful.  It was on this mountain that the Lord revealed Himself to Elijah.  He was not in some showy form such as a fire, an earthquake or even in the wind.  Instead, He spoke to him and gave him direction on what to do next.  The Lord also made clear to Elijah that there were 7,000 in Israel who had not bowed down to Baal.  He wasn't alone after all.
     While Elijah was dry with exhaustion physically, spiritually, and mentally, God watered him with rest, food and then, revealed Himself to this prophet.  He ministered to Him, and made provision for another to take his place.  Our God is mighty to quench the dryness in our heart if we will turn to Him.
     When times of drought come to us because we are trying to cope with too many things all at once, we can take some direction from this story about Elijah.  First, we need to get adequate rest.  Exhaustion tends to affect the whole person.  We are not able to think straight or make wise decisions when we are overly tired.  Secondly, we need to eat a healthy diet to restore energy.  Finally, we need to seek the Lord in His Word so that He may reveal Himself to us.  He is the Living Water and when we drink deeply of Him, we will not thirst.  Our drought will disappear when we take time to give our bodies rest and our hearts refreshment at the feet of Jesus.
     If I stopped watering and feeding my plants during this time of excessive dryness in Florida, they would die or wither.  The plants depend on me to care for them.  In the same way, God wants us to depend completely on Him even when we are faced with dry times in our life.  He is our source and provision in this life.  This is what He demonstrated to Elijah and it was recorded in the Bible to encourage us as we read it.  Let us take a lesson from the recounting of Elijah's dry place, and remember that it is God who was His source and ours.  As He cared for Elijah, He will care for us.  May we immerse ourselves in His Living Water so our time of drought will end.  Selah!

How has God watered your heart lately?  Please share your thoughts with me.  I love to hear from you.


Anonymous said...

We had pouring rain for the last couple weeks... we probably would've liked to send some your way!
I always liked that story of Elijah. In stressful times it can be hard to listen to the still, small voice.

Barbara Thayer said...

I would have gladly welcomed any rain you sent our way! We are truly very dry here. Yes, Elijah is one of my favorite stories too. He was completely depleted in this passage...exhausted, dried out...just like our weather. Couldn't help but see the comparison!