Lately, images of fire dart across my mind’s radar screen.
Of course, the news reports about wild fires out west attracted my attention and the sight of all that devastation leaves me rife with sympathy for those who’ve lost their homes.
To continue the fiery theme, last week my blog received the “Blog On Fire” award. Shortly before that, an amazing display of fiery color occurred in my own backyard at sunset one evening – an image I managed to capture with my camera and post yesterday on Wordless Wednesday.
Even the weather speaks of fire to me with sultry hot and humid days and nights, which make me feel like I’m burning up and bring old sayings to my thoughts like “hotter than Hades,” or my personal favorite, “hotter than a flicker’s nest,” a phrase my Mom used to utter.
All these fire images got me to thinking. You know the problem with fire is you can get burned out. When there’s not enough fuel to sustain a fire, it flickers, it fades, and it dies out. Done. Consumed. Burned out. Cold.
Sometimes that’s exactly how I feel – in my real life and in my writing life – like I don’t have enough sustainable fuel to keep the fire going. As I examine why I feel so consumed, I can list off a litany of reasons.
I’m tired. I’m overwhelmed with too many tasks to accomplish. The summer doldrums I usually encounter this time of year just weigh me down. The emotional aspect of our middle daughter getting married recently and preparing for our other two adult children’s weddings is taking a toll on me. I’m feeling a bit melancholy over the fact that all of our children will again be far from the homestead.
Now that middle daughter is married, she and son-in-law have commenced their newly-wedded life in the state south of us. When son marries in two months, he and our new daughter-in-law will live in the state to the east of us. And we just learned that oldest daughter and her fiancé will set up housekeeping in his city – a state several hours southwest – once they become man and wife.
It’s entirely possible that all these circumstances explain why I feel burned out and used up. I spoke with a very good friend lately and confided some of this to her as well as the fact that on top of all of these reasons, I’m also encountering a very dry spell in my walk of faith.
I know this happens from time to time. I’ve experienced it before, but I don’t like it. Here’s how I would describe this experience:
You used to feel revived, just like a continuous mountain stream might provide refreshment, by the living God each day. Cool and alive, moving forward. You’re nourished by God and His Word and saturated with His living water.
Then for some reason, the dry season comes just like the drought that holds much of our country tight in its grip right now. You feel withered. Parched. Like you’re in the middle of a hot, desolate desert.
Here’s the part that causes me to often struggle. I know my Savior. I know the answer to my thirst, the solution for the dryness is in His Word. All I have to do is open it and partake. It’s like when you turn on your kitchen faucet. Cool water pours forth. You need to grab your cup, fill it up, and drink to quench your thirst. And even though I know this, I don’t do it. My Bible sits unopened; my prayer times prove shoddy and quick at best.
I have an amazing friend who is an ardent prayer warrior. I know she prays for me. She told me she often pictures those she prays for as vessels which have been turned over on their sides and are starting to empty. So she prays for God to fill them up.
As she’s been praying for me, she saw me as a vessel not just turned over, but turned upside down and emptied out. She softly added that she doesn’t tell me this to hurt me. I replied that this image doesn’t hurt me because I know it is truth and she has put into words exactly how I feel. Upside down and empty.
That is how life feels sometimes, even the life of a believer in Christ. We endeavor to live each day with gratitude and joy, but some days, our humanity, our very humanness gets the upper hand and we just don’t feel it.
But then something truly amazing happens. Even amid a burned out, worn out wasteland, God is a God of restoration. He tells me that in scripture, but when I can’t, or don’t, or won’t read that for myself, He shows me.
I see firsthand His restoration in my parched, dried, crunchy brown lawn when he sends refreshing rain to green my grass yet again. He demonstrates restoration when I gaze at the farmer’s field next to my home. Once it was a wasteland of overgrown brush and briars, ugly to behold. Now, it boasts stalk after stalk of lushly green corn, growing by inches each and every day.
He reminded me of His restoring power when we visited Shanksville, PA recently and I viewed the farmland which was violated, shredded, torn, and burned when Flight 93 crashed there on September 11, 2001. In place of the horror that field represents, gorgeous wildflowers now grow as God restores that land.
And He proves to me that even though I feel distant from Him, worn down, and burned out, He is still with me (or as my prayerful friend says, “He knows your address.”). He still cares, He still protects, He still loves me unconditionally – empty and parched, tired vessel that I am.
How do I know this is true? Because as I trudged to my mailbox one weary day, I glanced across the road, and God, Creator of the universe, showed me something – a group of wild daisies blooming.
Happy little white and yellow flowers that I’ve never noticed growing near my house before. The sight of them transported me back to childhood and a summer activity I always loved as a youngster – picking a daisy and plucking each petal off of it as I recited, “He loves me, he loves me not. He loves me, he loves me not.”
Right then I knew it! I knew – deep in my heart and yes, in my soul – something profound resonated while observing those wildflowers by the side of the road.
I picked a daisy and as I twirled it round and round in my hand and considered plucking its petals, it ‘spoke’ to me. And this is what it said, “He loves you.” Each petal of that daisy proclaimed, “He loves you. He loves you. He loves you!” And I didn’t have to pluck the petals off the stem to know it.
I never have to second guess His love for me. Even when I feel distant from God. Even when I feel like I’m in the middle of an arid desert. He always has loved me. He always will. He will restore me, and He will provide refreshment. He will give me strength. He will grant me joy. He will always be with me. That is His promise – “… lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” ~ Matthew 28:20.
And you know what? He loves you the same. A daisy told me so.
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” ~ Isaiah 40:8