In the last 96+ hours I have walked into the desert four different times and found an oasis like no other. I have never been stranded in a desert and I thank God for that fact. In some seasons of my life, I have felt lost in a proverbial desert, a place where my spirit was waning and hope was fading. Doubt, fear, impatience, anxiety, and a host of other dysfunctional thoughts overcame peace, hope, joy, love, patience, and a host of other good thoughts. Funny how, in the absence of good things, bad things have the power to debilitate and destroy. Keeping the faith requires me to know daily that God is with us during the good and the bad times.
The image below is a dry sponge. It is stiff, rough, and...and... well it's DRY!
Soaking in large volumes of water can turn this dry hunk of fiber into a full effective gatherer of fluid....(That sounded better in my head than it looks on this blog)
Anyway, the point being that we can't fully appreciate the glorious renewal of God unless we have been dehydrated by the world and feel helpless and dry. Even if we 'never' feel dehydrated (Which I would find hard to believe) there is always a chance of complacency and we'll wander into the desert on our own.
I am serving a church of amazing sisters and brothers who have been in those arid places and have been searching for an oasis. Their struggle had threatened to drain their spiritual vitality and leave them dry as a sponge without water. I believe they have been led through this season in order to experience God's redemptive and restorative healing.
I understand the sponge is fully ready to execute its usefulness when it is bone dry. It has potential. It is waiting for those first droplets of water to appear (Makes it sound like a sponge can think....).
Sunday during our initial 'small' group study on "What it means to be a United Methodist" (RENEWED) 68 people turned out to learn. Monday evening at our initial men's Bible study "Stepping Up" (Family Life Today) 16 men showed up to learn. Wednesday morning and evening 33 people came with expectancy to meet Jesus in the study of "The Red Sea Rules" (Robert Morgan) and learn.
Dry sponges much like disciples who have wandered in the desert have some things in common. They are both dry and thirsty. They are both primed with great potential for absorption. No mirages here!