Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Roots for Fruit...Even in a drought.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jer. 17:8 (NIV)

Have you ever felt like you're in a spiritual drought? Not necessarily out of touch with God, but just all used up? Yes, it's been a year. If I'm honest it's been several years in a row. 

It occurs to me that in trying to take care of myself and take time to rest I've become my own worst enemy. I've separated myself from one important source of restoration and strength - my church. 

Yes it's a matter of obedience to be hooked in to your local church, but there's a good reason (God always has one of those). I can worship, pray, and read God's word all by myself and I do all of those things. What I can't do is:

  •  be a group by myself.
  • provide a vast wealth of experience and wisdom to myself.
  • hold myself accountable. 
It's a matter of perspective. When I was in college we had chapel services three times a week. We were required to attend a certain number of times each semester and turned in a card each time so someone somewhere could keep score. 

Of course there were times we wanted to go - a special speaker or concert - but most of the time many of us saw it as just another obligation: one more place to be when we had so many other things to do. The unfortunate and erroneous nature of this thinking is made vividly clear in the contrasting thoughts of Dr. Jack MacGorman, a long-time professor:

"For somebody who felt such an overwhelming gratitude to God
for his mercy and his kindness, chapel was the only place to go. Not
 to show up in a time of worship would have been unthinkable."

That says it all, doesn't it? I'll be honest. I have trouble getting to church sometimes for different reasons, none of which are important when held up next to the honor and worship that God deserves. 

Not going to church makes as much sense as sitting on the banks of a river and watching cool, crystal clear water flowing abundantly by while I thirst to death. 

Sometimes I can be an idiot. 

But idiots can change. As I ponder this scripture and pray that God will use me in a special way this year I'm going to take advantage of the sustenance that is before me each time my church gathers. I don't know where that will take me, but I know that disobedience in this area hurts me and dishonors God - two things I want to  avoid. 

So, for those of you who know me, please feel free to hold me accountable. (You can't imagine how I cringed as I wrote that!!!). Please be kind, and don't be offended by any eye-rolling or groaning. That will just be me wondering what in the world I've done by giving you permission to do that! 

As God's plan continues to unfold in 2014 I pray that he pulls us in closer to him, to know him deeper, to love him better, and from the overflowing of those riches, to change our world. 

I'm praying for you.