As Christians, each of us goes through dry seasons in life. Times when we struggle to experience the presence of God. Reading the Bible becomes bland. Our minds begin to drift off during prayer. We go to church, but many times it’s simply because we have to be at mass every Sunday as Catholics.
During the past six years, there have been many of these dry seasons for me. I’ve made it a routine to read through certain journals I’ve kept since 2012, simply to be able to recognize these times when they are looming. Here lately, I’ve been studying significant changes I’ve experienced since then, trying to discover triggers that may have brought on these feelings of God feeling so far away.
Before we go any further, if you have or are currently going through one of these periods yourself, this doesn’t exactly mean it’s a consequence or you’ve done something wrong. Personally, I think God leads us to go through these times every now and then, simply to see where our hearts are at and to test our faith. Some might think believing this is foolish. As I said, all I have to go on is what I’ve lived through in the past.
There have been many times when I have struggled to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, seemingly without cause. Days become weeks. Before I know it, months have gone by without experiencing intimacy with God. Since deepening a personal relationship with Jesus has become important to me, these dry seasons tend to happen after one of two events. Either leaving Florida or long separations with my wife.
While it’s been almost two years since I’ve lived in Jacksonville Beach, my wife and I have had plenty of struggles since deciding to live separately for a while this past April. Things have been getting much better between the two of us, but there’s still quite a bit of healing which needs to take place. Thank God the two of us have never experienced one of these dry seasons at the same time. But, it can be difficult when two people as close to God as we try to be, have the enemy tugging at one of us. This brings any growth as a couple to a screeching halt.
For the most part, these last few months, I have been going through rapid growth spurts I have been longing to encounter for years. This is largely in part to me finally being in full communion with the Catholic Church. Sadly, they have been moments I’ve gone through with my wife at a distance. This has led to me going days at a time struggling to find the joy I wanted the two of us to experience together, my wife as a lifelong Catholic. I catch myself feeling selfish every now and then, allowing the enemy to tell me she’s the one robbing me of joy.
When I’m being honest though, I am lucky we’re still married with my behaviors and actions of the past few years. I have to remind myself regularly that anything I may think she is doing wrong is a direct response to pain and hurt I’ve created along the way. When I dwell on this too much, I catch myself going to any lengths to hide where I think God is unable to see me. I seem to blend in the best in the dark corners of a bar or in my office with only a desk lamp on and a twelve pack of beer.
Praying and reading Scripture is difficult to enjoy while the hammer known as a hangover pounds at my head. The hour I spend daily at the adoration chapel turns into an hour of trying to sleep away a night of drinking. When I let this get to me too much as the day goes on, I spend another night with the enemy instead of turning to my Bible for comfort. Before I know it, two, three, even four days go by with me hiding as far away from Jesus as I possibly can. Lately, the bond I’ve been able to create with God and the healing that has taken place within my marriage has been enough to keep these dry seasons at days instead of weeks.
While hiding from God looks different in your life, I’m willing to bet you know exactly what I’m talking about. Maybe you’ve lost a parent or loved one and you’re looking to create as much distance from God as possible. Maybe one of your children is facing a battle you’re unable to fix and the effects have driven you crazy. Or, possibly you’re like my wife. Maybe your spouse has put you through too much hell. You’ve done everything you can to stay as close and faithful to God as you can. But, the last hurt was finally enough to push you into hiding yourself.
There are many reasons for the dry seasons we face. Regardless of the scenario, the worst thing we can do is give our attention to the enemy. He’ll tell us we’re different for going out of our way to hide from God. This game of hide and seek is something human beings have been going through from the beginning of creation.
Genesis 3:8-9 “When they heard the sound of the Lord God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. The Lord God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you?”
After eating the fruit of the tree they were forbidden to eat from, Adam and Eve hid themselves from God. Because of their great sin, their eyes were open to their nakedness. They no longer felt comfortable in the presence of their Creator.
God is the maker and creator of the universe and everything in it. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done or how far we want to run. There’s nowhere we can turn to hide from Jesus. Regardless of how many covers I pull over my head, laying on my couch, God’s there. It doesn’t matter how many beers I’ve made it into a thirty pack. He’s right there waiting for me to turn my attention back towards Him.
This last Friday night, I stayed with my wife at her place after enjoying a night out by ourselves. I sat up with our three-year-old daughter, lil v, so my wife could catch up on some sleep. The two of them had gone to watch a ballet a few days prior. Lil v wanted to show me some of the moves she’s been practicing since the show.
She put a little too much effort into one of her spins. Victoria then fell into an end table, knocking over a bottle of water. She instantly stopped what she was doing and was upset. She thought she’d made a mistake which couldn’t be fixed. In an attempt to hide from what she’d done, she closed and squinted her eyes as hard as she could. In her mind, as long as she couldn’t see me, I was unable to see her.
I’m sure if you have children, you probably just cracked a smile, thinking about similar memories of your own. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at my daughter. Her only response was to scream at me, “It isn’t funny.” I couldn’t help but laugh even harder.
In God’s eyes, we have to look just as silly to Him. We believe we can distance ourselves from His love and grace. We’ll do anything we possibly can to make God non-existent in our lives. Regardless of what we try, He’s right there trying His hardest not to laugh.
The next time you find yourself in the middle of a dry season, hiding as best you can from God, instead of screaming at Him that it’s not funny, ask Jesus what you can do to help clean up the water.