Monday, June 13, 2011

Our Year of Drought

"For he (the one who trusts in the LORD) will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.
Jeremiah 17:8 (NASB)

If you take seriously the simple words of Jesus, "Take up your cross and follow Me," you will have at least one long season of drought in your life. I know that many will wish for something a bit more encouraging from me this week, but hold on. Perhaps our story will bring you exactly the encouragement you need if you are in your "YOD" right now.

A "YOD" can take on many forms. In an agricultural society, it was usually just what the term implied: an extreme lack of water. For you and me it can be a season of poor health, tough economics or family crises. It might be a combination of problems. The problems can cascade, pummeling us with questions about whether God has forgotten us or if He even exists. A good drought forces us to ask ourselves many critical questions, the answers to which seem impossible to find.

For Cathy and me, one long "YOD" took place when I went back to college. I had already been serving full-time on a church staff, but the clear change of calling into a pastoral role meant uprooting our little family to locate near the college. We left a home owned by the church where I worked and moved into the unknown world of house rentals. We left the security of a good job and traveled 1,000 miles hoping to find enough work to "put beans on the table." We left the comfort of great friends and a supportive church to find ourselves as strangers in a large city.

Before I tell you about how God provided during our "YOD", here are a few things we learned about living through one.
1. Don't try to detour around it (God wants you to experience the "YOD" and to endure.)
2. Don't take yourself too seriously. (It's okay to look like a fool if God is getting glory from it.)
3. Don't be anxious. (God has this "YOD" under control. He will supply what you need when you need it.)
4. Do keep your priorities. (Our "YOD" was largely financial. We chose to tithe throughout that season and we put God first by faith. He always met our needs!)
5. Do expect to learn much. (For many subsequent years, Cathy and I called our "YOD" our best year because we learned so much about walking with God.)

One day, during our "YOD", we needed to buy a few groceries to tide us over until we received a small paycheck from my work. Cathy asked me if we had a few dollars in our checking account. "We don't," I replied. "We're down to the $5 we keep in the account to make sure we don't overdraw." Back then we knew where every dime went and exactly how much we had in the bank.

"I will take a little from Sean's piggy bank," Cathy said. We can pay it back when you are paid." We were in the car on the way home during this conversation, our tiny son oblivious to what we were talking about. Upon our arrival, Cathy looked through our mail which had arrived while we were gone. The mail that day included a card from Cathy's aunt, the wife of her pastor-uncle who had performed our wedding. "We remember what it's like to be in seminary and try to make ends meet," the note said. "We wanted to send you this to help out." In the card was a check for $20, just enough to take care of our immediate needs.

A "YOD" interrupted by a faithful God! He interrupted us over and over again that year. Put Him first and He will interrupt you, too!

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