Have you ever had a spiritual dry seasongreenspun.com : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread
Hello my Internet Church Family,
I stumbled upon a great book the other day in the Petersburg, Va library. The title of this book is LISTENING FOR GOD-A Minister's Journey Through Silence and Doubt by Renita J. Weems. Dr. Weems is an African-American who is an ordained minister and an academician who teaches Old Testament studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School.
In this book, Dr. Weems asserts that there were times in her life as a minister when she did not feel the presence of God even though she knew He was present. She states that she went about her duties as a minister performing the sacraments and donning her stole even though she had not heard from God for a period of time. She went on to say that at one point she had doubts about her calling as a minister, doubts about prayer, doubts about the meaning of her work. Nevertheless, she prayed anyway.
She stated that after experiencing a spiritual high, she would experience these spiritual lows of where she didn't feel the presence of God. She also said that the Christian life is similar to seasons but not a linear progression. Instead, there is a cyclical nature to the Christian life. There are ups and downs. There are some lesssons that can only be learned in the down state. These lessons learned in the down state can make one appreciate the more happier times. The season of silence from the Lord is painful but it causes one to look for other ways to communicate with God such as listening to Him and reading the Bible. Here is a quote from p.26 of her book.
"Ministers rarely talk about the long dry periods in their spiritual journey. I know they don't because I am one, and I have rarely been willing to bring up the matter in public for fear that listens would view me as a spiritual fraud. How does one who is supposedly an expert on prayer and spiritual disciplines admit that there are times when her own heart is unable to get through to the God she recommends to others? How does a minister admit that she hasn't heard from God in a long, long time? It is much easier and safer to talk about the springtime of faith, when desire for inward journeying is insatiable and belief in mystery is irrepressible."
The timing of my discovering this book is uncanny because I feel right now like I cannot feel the presence of God. Although, I am not a minister, I am learning that our feelings can deceive us. Therefore, we are to pray and continue our spiritual disciplines whether we feel the presence of God or not. In this book, Dr. Weems points out that the memory of past feelings with God can encourage us to pray and continue our spiritual disciplines in the absence of feelings. We can also be comforted by Paul's letter to Titus where in the second verse he said that God cannot lie. Therefore, if we don't feel his presence, we can know that His word is Truth enough to motivate us.
I thank Rev. Weems for this heart wrenching self-disclosure because it is helping me through my spiritual dry season.
-- Anonymous, August 19, 2003
I love Dr. Weems. I have read "Between Sisters". She is very deep in spiritual matters of God.
God is eternal, He changes not. We may not always feel his presence but he is there. David encourages me with Psalms 139. Where can we go from His presence?
My sister once told me "The times when it seems like we are doing nothing, God is up to something in our life."
Satan wants to make us feel like we have been abandoned, so we can be in a state of discouragement. That's the place he works on us best. But we have to keep praying, keep reading God's Word. When the time comes for our spirit to be awakened, it will be like fresh rain in a drought season. What a pleasure it will be when the annointing is felt again. Actually we can shout now in anticipation.
-- Anonymous, August 20, 2003
Sister Carmen, I read Psalm 139 and it is beautiful. I think many of us go through our own spiritual drought where we cannot feel His presence but I think that's a trick of the devil. We know He is omnipotent and omnipresent, we close our eyes and He is there. Satan can't make me believe anything less. We have to stay in constant prayer and allow the Spirit to touch us.
Glory to God, Carmen
-- Anonymous, August 20, 2003
What a pretty name. :-)
I've been reading a book by Watchman Nee entiled "Releasing the Spirit". I had to admit this morning that I fall in line with many Christians who err by thinking the acitivity of praying and meditating will somehow keep the presence of God with us. And yes, we should pray without ceasing as the Bible exhorts us, but if we are under the impression that this will keep God's presence with us, we will find ourselves sad and doubting His presence when we are otherwise distracted.
We have this body for the soul purpose of housing God's Spirit. It seems as if we concentrate more on it, than anything else. We are driven by our emotions more than we are of our Spirit. Sometimes when our emotions are high, we think we are experiencing a spiritual high. And to some degree we have, only the spirit is always high, but doesn't get a chance to come forth except when we are doing some activity such as praying and reading the Word. The emotions are attempting to dictate to the spirit, instead of the Spirit dictating or controlling the emotions.
This could get rather lengthy, and I am not sure I can go there right now. Nobody knows your spirit, like God's Spirit. It is by God we live, move and have our being. Have you ever had a moving telling you to get up and pray for an individual or about a situation? That's God's Spirit. It moved so strongly that you forgot about your self, your emotions had nothing to do with the unction to pray, and what you were praying was made manifested. I don't think that we always have to be on a spiritual high, just be sensitive to the Spirit.
Watchman Nee says the key to releasing the Spirit is the breaking of our outward man.
I think when we begin to accept the fact that God's Spirit is eternal, it's strong and never loses power, we can begin to put the faith in God instead of ourselves. Then ourselves will start to become weak, and His Spirit will be strong. It's like a matter of where we direct our dependency.
-- Anonymous, August 21, 2003
Brothers and Sisters-I am a minister and I know how hard it is to talk about that long dry season not only for clergy but for everybody. In some ways these seasons hone our faith as we continue to practice spiritual disciplines without that "high" we almost come to expect.
I think one of the things that makes a dry spiritual time difficult is our expectations of ourselves and God. I know that sometimes it seems like I need to work harder or I'm not doing something right. Notice that these are all my actions and I forget that, as my friend says, God is the subject of the active verbs.
I find that when I left go of my expectations and just focus on that which is in front of me; dealing with this day as I believe God would have me do so, that things work out. Not only do things go well, but when my expectations are out of the way I am freed up for God's Spirit to enter in and recharge me.
I write this having just gone through an extended time of feeling spiritually bereft. As I look back it appears that God was giving me a time to do some learing and discerning. I am emerging from this spiritual black hole with a better sense of God's call and how to use my spiritual gifts.
-- Anonymous, August 21, 2003
Well put David. The book sounds interesting and like it is definitely worth the read.
-- Anonymous, August 25, 2003