5 Questions To Ask When The Well Runs Dry
What do you do when you "go to the well" and it's dry?
Two of my great loves have been increasingly difficult of late: preaching and writing. Finding the "message" in my sermon preparation has been like finding water in the desert -- it's hard! As to writing, there's not much juice in the orange. It seems all the creativity is squeezed out.
I was pondering my parched state while on an early morning walk last week. As I did, several questions came to mind:
- Is it hard and I just need to push through it? The Apostle Paul is proof positive that the life of the Christ-follower is arduous: Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys . . . in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night (2 Corinthians 11:25-27 ESV). Sometimes, like Paul, we just need to push through the tough stuff. If we keep pumping, water eventually flows.
- Am I tired and just need to rest? God warns against burning the candle at both ends (Psalm 127:2). Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is get a good night's sleep. Additionally, we need margins and rhythms to be at our best for God. Margins are spaces in our day, our week, and our month to pause. Rhythms are what we do in those pauses. There's a rhythm to my day for quiet time with God, reading, writing, exercising, and thinking. What patterns does God use to keep you fresh? Are you practicing them?
- Is my input matching my output? In 1992, I called my nephew, Anthony Kiedis, to congratulate him for his band's Grammy. The Red Hot Chili Peppers had also just finished a tour so I asked him if he was going to take some time to write. "No," came the reply, "I'm going to take some time to live. My best songs come out of my life." Anthony recognized that input is necessary if there is going to be output. Rock stars and "regular guys" both need to take time to refuel. Click here for the post, Your Most Important Work. It includes an exercise that will help.
- Have I reached a plateau and need to be challenged? In Proverbs, God tells us, "An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge" (Proverbs 18:15 ESV). Reading a great book, attending a seminar or retreat, taking a class, or asking an expert to assess the situation can go a long way to getting back on track. I regularly read posts from Michael Hyatt, Seth Godin, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Harvard Business Review. They get me thinking. If you are looking for help in this area, I would suggest reading the post, A Whack On The Side Of The Head as a good place to start.
- Am I trusting God in the midst of my dry time and asking for his help? God, in his sovereignty, allows hard times to come. Paul helps us to understand why: For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again (2 Corinthians 1:8-10 ESV). Dry wells are not necessarily a sign of God's disfavor, but they are always opportunities to lean on Him, to rediscover his strength, and to reset our sights on the One who will deliver us again and again!
Are you a little dry? Why not step back and ask a few questions. I pray that God helps you to find a little more water in the well.