For I will pour out water on the thirsty land And streams on the dry ground… Isaiah 44:3

Ever have days or weeks when you feel you’re living in a spiritual desert? Are you tempted to think you might be out of God’s will or you might have in some way displeased God? (The operative word here is “tempted.”) When the tempter can’t move us into actual sin, I think he tempts us with thinking that dryness is equated to a lack of spiritual fervor or loss of commitment. Let’s unmask that evil one with truth.

Following the Greatest Generation, that marvelous population characterized by self-sacrifice, traditional values, and hard work, we moved into the Me era (so named by Thomas Wolfe) and got stuck in hedonism, narcissism, and personal sensibilities—essentially, feelings. Everything was measured by how we feel. And that leaked into the spiritual world. We began to think that feeling God was necessary to spiritual health; that feeling righteous was the gauge for holiness; that feeling happy was the direct indicator of spiritual maturity. Feelings left faith far behind, and feelings left fact behind.

So today when we have dark nights (or months) of the soul, we become discouraged rather than realizing that even the saints in Scripture (see Moses, Gideon, Job, Elijah, Peter) went through physical and emotional struggles. We have the same remedies they had in their darkest hours: trust, declare, and praise. Trust God’s faithfulness: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22, 23). Declare our trust: “ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…” (Job 13:15). Disregarding circumstances, praise him: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17, 18).

Our faith is not based on feelings, which are notoriously fickle. They change with a good meal or a phone call or new purchase. During dry times, we trust our faithful Father, reminding ourselves of his unfailing words to us. We quiet ourselves before him and give ourselves to praise. We are quick to thank God when we experience pleasant circumstances. Why not praise in reversals or in the desert?

God WILL make himself known in his time, and we will grow as we trust and praise. “The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places” (Habakkuk 3:19).

Trust, declare, praise. The rain is coming.

Father, there’s nothing about droughts that we like, but we need them from time to time to strengthen us and to cause us to trust, declaring your faithfulness, and praising your name. Don’t spare us because of our whining. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.



My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Song of Solomon 2:14

When was the last time someone sat down, put away his* phone, looked you in the eye and talked with you—not at or to you? And when did someone not only put away the phone but talked with you without glancing at his watch? And listened in return?

Try to remember when you both got to say everything you wanted to say without jumping up to go to the next appointment or the next chore. We are learning to speak in shorthand so that we can express the most concise information in the shortest number of words. And, actually, we’re not even using words nowadays. Consider LOL, BTW, FYI. Do you ever text, “How r u?” “C u sn.” “Agreed?” “K.”

Even with advanced technology, our communication is lousy. And our relationships are suffering for it. We don’t make time to talk; we don’t take time to listen. Let’s face it: conversation is not one of our priorities.  I miss those days when we used to talk.

It shouldn’t surprise us that we don’t have time to pray or to listen to God. There are chores to do; there are projects to complete; there are assignments that are due; there are meetings… “Let me hear your voice…,” the Lover says in Song of Solomon. God wants to stay in touch. He longs for intimacy every day, ongoing dialog where each is speaking, and each is listening. And the relationship is growing.

How long has it been? Knowing his Father’s heart, Jesus showed us how to stay connected—in the morning, during the day, late at night, alone, in public, all the time. Let’s get this conversation going. Pray without ceasing.

And while we’re at it, let’s trying talking with one another…


Father, just as we long to hear and be heard, you want to hear and be heard by us. Help us to work on our communication with you—praying and listening—back into the center of our lives. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


*When I was in school in ancient times, “his” was gender-neutral… Indulge me on this, please.


For in him we live, and move, and have our being… Acts 17:28


My little grandmother was a practical lady. I doubt that she had too much use for theology, but she did know the Author of the Bible intimately. And she spoke with and of him throughout the entirety of her days. She saw God in everything, and her ears were open to his voice wherever she turned.

We lived next door to my grandparents for the first eight years of my life so that her pragmatic Christianity deeply formed me. For Grandma, there was a message in everything. One day as I was helping her around the house, she told me that she loved to clean—it reminded her of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. She said that the blood of Jesus cleanses us (present tense) from all our sin. And so on, Grandma lived out her faith.  With that background, I shouldn’t ever be surprised when God appears every day—just as he does with all of us if we open our eyes.

One of my projects this summer was to paint my home office, and I determined to take advantage of the seasonal sale to get my supplies. The office has an accent wall covered with a graphic design that picks up the color of the adjoining sitting room. I rushed off to the paint store thinking I could match that color from memory and loaded up with what I needed.

Faster than I expected, the paint was done and drying. And then I noticed something: the paint was a couple shades off the paper and looked dreadful. All that time and expense had been for nothing. I knew I should have checked my records to see what color I had used for the sitting room, but I was in a hurry.

On my next day off, I decided to see if there might be an old paint can in the basement that would give me the right color formula. Sure enough, not only was there an old can, but the can was full. Is it a stretch to say that what I needed I already had but was in too big a rush to investigate? The paint was perfect, went on quickly, and it creates just the effect I wanted.

Isn’t God able to meet our practical as well as our spiritual needs? I wonder if I’m/we’re so esoteric that I/we don’t imagine God will take care of the little things that make up much of what we do every day? Every time I use or walk through that office, I will remember how my haste cost me and will always have a toll when I don’t bother to talk with God about the little things.


Father, help me to practice more and more your presence and your provision in all things. Remind me that you resist the proud but gives grace (and help) to the humble. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.



He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:3

Put yourself in Moses’ position. Adopted into royalty, he had the finest education, resources to satisfy every desire, and servants to do his bidding. And then he didn’t. Running for his life, his refuge was in a lonely desert with a flock of sheep. But that’s where he met God and responded to the call on his life.

When God sent Moses back to Egypt to shepherd his people Israel and to lead them to their ancestral home, it appears that he left out the details of leadership. Moses was so busy quarreling with God about his lack of skills that it didn’t occur to him to ask for a job description. And it’s probably a good thing—Moses’ lack of qualifications was nothing compared to what he would be asked to do for the next forty-odd years.

You know the story: Moses reunited with his brother Aaron, sketched out the plan, and together they went to proclaim freedom to their people. Then they went to ask permission from the Pharaoh and performed astonishing miracles to convince him that it was in his best interest to let God’s people go. The people finally left, and then Moses’ faith walk began.

The essence of the Long Range Plan seems to have been: 1. Follow God; 2. Depend on his provisions; 3. Obey his guidance. Period. There were no Plans B or C. It was Total Dependence. Every. Single. Day.

Exodus 13:21 and 22 tells us that the Lord went ahead of them in a cloud to guide them by day. When the cloud stopped, they stopped. For as long as the cloud stopped. When the cloud moved, they moved. No forewarning, not even a hint. Total Dependence.
Apparently, there wasn’t a map with notations for desert wells and where the people could find water for themselves and their animals. And the first time they did stumble upon water, it was bitter (Ex. 15:23). Moses did the only thing he knew to do: he called on God, and God gave him a unique plan—throw a tree into the water. And the water was made sweet. Total Dependence.

At some point, the provisions the Israelites had packed for what should have been a few weeks’ journey were exhausted. The people were wishing they were back in Egypt with all the spicy food—they’d forgotten their bondage—and they were whining like babies. So God told Moses that he would rain bread from heaven on them, which lasted for the duration of the trip (Ex. 16:4).

When there was disobedience or disagreements or longing for meat or need for wisdom, Moses cried out to God, and God responded. Total Dependence. There was no way Moses could have anticipated nor have prepared everything that was needed to care for millions of people in the wilderness for decades with no outside resources. BUT GOD…

Every. Single. Day. Moses depended on God. And so should we. We want blueprints for the future; we want maps; we want assurance. We already have EVERYTHING we need. We have God. God is enough. Every. Single. Day.

Father, forgive our doubt and unbelief. We already have everything we need for life and godliness through Jesus Christ our Lord. THANK YOU.



For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: Isaiah 30:15 (KJV)


In a little booklet I have called “Unhurried Living,” John Ortberg says, “Hurry is a disordered heart.” He refers to the habit of constantly rushing; of guilt when we’re not doing anything; of pressure to perform; of anxiety that others will get ahead of us; and of FOMO, fear of missing out. In our high-stress lifestyleS today, we’ve probably all succumbed to one of these behaviors. We seem to have something pushing at all times telling us that we need to be busy.

And then the Lord comes to us in our rushing about and tells us to be still and know him (Psalm 46:10). Stop everything. In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. I wonder if the question is “would not” or “could not”? Have we become so habituated to rushing around that we don’t know how to stop? But God says that in resting, we’ll be strong; in being still, we’ll come to know him.

Two of our Ugandan friends, retired archbishop Henry and his wife Phoebe, have practiced Quiet Monday for the eighteen years that I’ve known them. Phoebe loads a basket with fruit and drinks, and then she and Henry go to a mountain retreat to pray and rest and be still for the day. Henry was bishop of a northwestern diocese in Uganda during the height of the Lord’s Resistance Army in their region—and yet, the LRA never ventured into his diocese to bring death and destruction. Was that coincidental or was it due to two people who every week dedicated one full day to resting and waiting and calling on God?

We may not have physical enemies, but we all have adverse circumstances and spiritual enemies waiting for the tiniest opening. What can we do? Borrowing again from “Unhurried Living,” we can refresh our spirits with God’s promises about rest; we can create a place in our homes or designate one nearby for reflection; we can commit to regular times (or days) of quietness; we can build in a time of renewal each month; or we could even take a sabbatical.

Take the challenge to rest. It may be difficult initially—our systems have been programmed for performance, but God calls us to rest. Our strength is in quietness and confidence.

Father, help us, convict us to slow down and listen. Quiet our spirits so that we rest in you. Renew us for your service and your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.