Monday, September 29, 2008

At the Well/Flat Ceiling Prayers

At the well today, Heather at Emotional Purity is hosting a "dry" subject, and she has even given great wisdom on the topic at her blog. I suggest you read what she has to say about spiritual dryness...it is gooooood stuff.

As for me, something specific comes to my mind, and I feel led to share it. 

I remember that moment all too well. The dishes were piled up. The laundry pile was larger than the city landfill, the kids were acting out, and I was depressed. I had truly hit bottom spiritually speaking, and my life reflected it--in my words, in my actions, in everything.

Brian's granddad was living with us at the time, I was homeschooling (part-time) three kids, had an ongoing leadership position at church (which in retrospect I should've given up for a season), Brian's dad ALSO had terminal brain cancer, and I was taking granddad back and forth to see him, and going to see him myself (because he was the only father I ever really had), and etc. It's impossible for me to capture all of the circumstances that led to suffocate the life out of me spiritually, but there I was.

Now let me just say that in my case, I was still in the Word and on my knees, so I wasn't spiritually dry in the sense that I wasn't faithful to seek Him. But I was spiritually dry in the sense that none of it penetrated my heart. My prayers felt empty. The Bible fell flat. I whined and sobbed to the Lord with my whole heart; yet, I felt like I may as well have been talking to the ceiling. I even turned to other things to try to make me feel better--food, entertainment, etc. That just furthered the wedge between the Lord and me, sending me further out into the desert.

I began to withdraw from friends, because I was tired of answering the question: "How are you doing? Do you need anything?" I wanted the phone to stop ringing, I wanted the kids to leave me alone, I wanted to curl up in a ball and hide myself deep under the sheets at the foot of the bed.

But here's what God did to all my flat ceiling prayers: He scraped them off and answered them. Not by changing my circumstances, but by changing my heart, teeny tiny little by little. He began prodding me to be thankful. His challenge came from the words of other people. He caused me to become broken and humble enough to let others in to help. Friends brought us meals, sent cards, prayed for me without my even knowing it, sent emails of encouragement, and on and on.

Before long, I was out of the pit and walking with joy in the valley. Not every second, but most of them. I was still exhausted, weepy and at the end of myself, but I was God-strong. He held me up through the arms of others, and kept me there through the power of His Word. The Lord, my Saviour, my Redeemer pulled me out of the pit by my shirt collar and gave me these verses to hold onto:

Psalm 40:1-3
I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.


If you are there right now--no matter the circumstances--smack dab in the middle of spiritual dry, don't stop crying out to God. Don't stop reaching out to Him. Even if it feels like your cries are falling flat to the floor or sticking to the roof of the ceiling. Even if you're walking around in puddles of tears. Even if you can't walk at all. The enemy wants to get you alone to tempt you, He wants you to withdraw, He wants you to seek other "stuff" to fix you up right, but it will lead to further separation from the Lord, the Only One who can heal what needs fixing. This isn't a formula, it's straight from Truth. Did you read those verses closely?

And it's almost impossible to understand if you're in the pit right now, but those last verses are so, so, so true as well. When the new song comes, filled with praise, many will see it and put their trust in the Lord. I'm a living, breathing witness of this truth.

Let me know your thoughts, and remember to head on over to Heather's for insightful teaching on the subject.



In the Key of HE,

18 friends shared a comment:

Homesteader in Training said...

Oh how I've been there. But God is so faithful. I'm so glad that they are only seasons! I just wished they ended a lot quicker!
Great words of encouragement.
Thank you for letting us see your heart.
Blessings my friend.

Laurie Ann said...

LauraLee, what a great post! I love the verses you shared. They are so true. He has lifted me up time and time again through various trials and seemingly from the depths of hell when I went through a horrible loss in my life. I love how you've encouraged us here. Some mighty good teaching and wisdom, my friend. Please stop by my post at http://magnoliaheartbeats.blogspot.com/2008/09/awards-day-kat-at-faith-in-all-seasons.html and pick something up...

Joyfull said...

Thank you for being so open and sharing the depths of spiritual dryness. Thank you also for sharing the hope the comes in God's Word and the encouragement to never let go of that blessed hope. What a blessing and encouragement!

Kat said...

Thank you so much for sharing your personal time of dryness. I too have felt that although at times I was praying and seeking Him out but "that none of it penetrated my heart". It's good to know someone else has felt that way. It was wonderful to see how you persisted though and kept crying out to Him. That is the answer, you're right, keep crying out, don't stop. Thanks for the inspiration, great post!

Mae said...

Defintely can feel where going from here and thanks for this piece of advice: no matter the circumstances--don't stop crying out to God.

Debra said...

How grateful I am to the Lord and His Word for the ability to pull us up and through those times of dryness.

A beautiful truth spoken here today. I have an award for you at my blog today. If you'd like, please come and grab it.

Blessings to you today.

JesusRulzMe said...

Okay first LauraLee, I LOVE your new picture! You're absolutely beautiful sister, radiating God's glorious design!

Second, I'm am sooo with you! I actually wrote about the similar spiritual dryness you shared today!

It's not always that we're away from Christ, but sometimes it's just we forget to be grateful and humble in our circumstances.

One of these times actually made me write a song about what I was going through.

I so love visiting you sister! I really do!

Bless you dear sister,
Sunny

LAURIE said...

Thank you for sharing your heart with us AT THE WELL. Oh yes...it is a matter of our heart...may His spirit penetrate our hearts. Thanks for sharing today. -Blessings, Laurie

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Laura Lee:

You know I know what you're saying! I've lived it over the past few weeks and did what I needed to do to get my "Jesus-strength" and perspective back.

Our God is so faithful, is he not?!

I won't hesitate to take a fast from the noise the next time I'm headed in a low direction. Thank God for the good sense to pause and to surrender.

I love your post, friend. You have a teaching spirit. I will always be back for more.

peace~elaine

Karyn said...

Thanks for this blog. I'm always so encouraged to see how God is using sites such as this one.
Karyn
www.christiancupid.com/blog

Denise said...

"I was still exhausted, weepy and at the end of myself, but I was God-strong." Been there in the valley and ever grateful for His strength that carried me through. Loved your post!

Dee Yoder said...

Oh goodness, have I been there, too, Laura. I remember looking up at the ceiling and wondering why my prayers seemed so empty. Love that verse--I memorized it as a child, just because it had "good" words-lol. But it has been in my mind many times as a grown-up when hard times beat me down.

Marcia Wilwerding said...

"But here's what God did to all my flat ceiling prayers: He scraped them off and answered them. Not by changing my circumstances, but by changing my heart, teeny tiny little by little."

That is so rich, I just cried. Thank you so much for sharing your heart in such a beautiful, God-honoring way.

lori said...

LauraLee,
I think we ALL have been there, for me it was YEARS of infertility that had me begging with the feeling that my prayers were not moving beyond the ceiling...
Your transparency is just such a gift that you share with us...

What a beautiful post...dryness comes in so many forms doesn't it?

You are a blessing!
lori

Blessed One said...

Oh yes! I'm so thankful that God is always faithful - even when I'm not. He has lifted me out of the mud and mire more than once. I've learned that if I feel distant from God, it's not Him that moved. Great word! Thank you for sharing your testimony. God bless you!

Betsy Markman said...

Oh, I have SO been there! I love your imagery of God scraping our prayers off of the ceiling and answering them! You're a blessing as always.

Joanne Sher said...

Oh so real and authentic and honest, dear Laura. This is SUCH an encouraging and wonderful post. Thank you.

Gigi said...

Oh yes...I can sooooo relate. I don't know where I'd be right now without the Lord...but the days are hard. So hard.