I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, and you are in fact dead. 2 Wake up and strengthen whatever you have left, teetering on the brink of death, for I've found that your works are far from complete in the eyes of my God.
Rev. 3:1b-2 (Common English Bible)
These words to the church at Sardis probably came as a huge surprise. When we get a performance evaluation, after all, we expect there to be something positive which softens the blow of our failures.
We are now in the season of Lent, the season of self-evaluation. As we examine our spiritual lives, we would hope that God would have some very positive words to say to soften the blow of any problem areas. But sometimes, we need to be shocked. We need to be told point blank to "Shape up!"
God has many ways of saying "Shape up" to us. Sometimes it's in a season of a "long dry spell" when our spiritual life seems to be as dry as the desert. We wonder why our prayers seem to go no farther than our lips. Sometimes God uses silence to form us and to get our attention.
Not too long ago, I was going along seemingly on auto-pilot. Things seemed to be going well. Then all of a sudden, I hit a "long dry spell." It seemed like my heart was as dry as the desert. My prayers seemed to bounce right back off the ceiling, and I wondered what could possibly be wrong. So I started to do a self-evaluation. I had been working for the Lord, yes, but to the extent that I had begun to ignore my own spiritual life. I had gotten lazy in my Bible readings, and prayer time had become those quick laundry lists of problems and concerns. Sure, I was still doing the work of the Lord, but I was starving spiritually. So I made an appointment with God. I sat down, cleared my mind of my schedule, went to a secluded place, and read the Bible and prayed - I mean really prayed. I discovered that God had been there all along, but I was the one who was just too busy to stop and spend time with the Lord. It wasn't long before the wells of my soul began to be filled again with that living water that can only come from spending time with Jesus.
So where have you been feeling dry and parched? Would you set aside some time to spend time with God, reading God's word, and praying? God waits patiently for you every day, and wants to fill you with living water that will never run dry, if you will only take time to stop and be refreshed.
Jan McCoy is associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Covington. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.