Times of Refreshing
I recently walked through the dining room and noticed my peace lily looked a bit droopy. It’s close to the sliding glass door and has always been happy in that spot. I stood over it and asked, “Hey what’s the matter with you?” (because you’re supposed to talk to your house plants, or so I’ve been told). No, I wasn’t expecting an answer, but still I continued, “Didn’t I just water you a few days ago?” I stuck my finger in the dirt, and yes it was dry, and yes I watered it so that it could perk up. The next morning it was looking happy and pleasant again, and I didn’t give it another thought...until last weekend when the Atwaters were with us. If you weren’t able to join us at Fusion, let me fill you in just a bit. Our missionary friends from Colombia, Tom & Jen Atwater and family were here with us for The Father’s Heart Conference. It was a rich time of God’s love being poured out, hearts being touched and healed, and wonderful refreshing in His presence. Now you must understand, that I’ve known them for several years, and when I first met them, Gabe was little, and now he’s 6’ 8”. I have been alongside them in various ministry opportunities numerous times. I know their passion and love for the Lord, and have always been blessed by them. This was no exception. The presence of the Lord came in such a powerful, yet tender way. I think I will never get used to how He comes, or why He comes, or that He even wants to. Child-like wonder is probably the best approach. But the truth remains, is that He does come to us...to love us...to fill us...to help us...to cleanse us...to restore us...to empower us...to renew us...to lead us... and you could keep filling in the blanks here. He’s a really good God, and He is an absolutely perfect Father. As I’ve been reflecting on some things from that weekend, the Lord took me to Psalm 84, and drew my attention to verse 10 (from the Passion translation, of course): “...one day of intimacy with You is like a thousand days of joy rolled into one...” Wow. No wonder He wants us to spend time in His presence. It isn’t for His ego. Even one day of intimate connection with Him will literally provide a storehouse of joy for me...because the joy of the Lord is my strength, Nehemiah tells us. The secret place can actually develop a reserve stock of strength for when the battle gets hot. The enemy tries relentlessly to distract us and pull us away from the very thing our soul needs. I don’t know about you, but it takes effort for me to sit still and focus. I find that it gets easier with time, but it still takes effort! Maybe it’s just the discipline we need to keep the main thing, the main thing. But then in addition to our personal secret place, we have those special times of refreshing, like this conference. One service after another where God was intentional about loving us, and equally intentional about stirring up our love for Him. It’s like He tipped over the watering can of His love to water the pitiful droopy house plant in our hearts. Sometimes we get dry. This world pulls on us, and it weighs us down, and sometimes it just leaves us looking a bit wilted. And other times it’s the good things that tire us. Church and ministry, and good jobs, and family life...all that stuff is good, but it still takes a toll on us. That’s why we need to be refreshed, or ‘watered’ over and over again. It’s just like my peace lily...I knew I had watered it the week before...but here it was again needing water. We are no different. I felt like the Lord reminded me that He knows what it’s like to walk in this world. There are difficult situations to deal with constantly. I actually had a picture in my mind of walking on a sidewalk, and accidentally stepping in some gum. Have you ever done that? I hate that! Especially if it’s a hot summer day, and the gum is all sticky and it strings along as you take a step. You can’t get it off your shoe. You try to scrape it off on the curb and it just makes a mess. Sometimes the stuff of this world is like that. It gets on you, and it gets messy, and it’s hard to wash off. He isn’t shocked to hear our cries or frustrated when we get weary. He fully understands us and remembers how we are formed. He also knows that we can be fully satisfied in Him. He not only asks us to come to Him, but He also delights in us coming to Him. In one of the sessions of The Father’s Heart conference, Tom talked about how we can recognize the voice of our Father. His voice is always one of love and acceptance, even when discipline is involved. But the enemy of our souls is also talking, and he comes with guilt and condemnation. He often shames us and makes us fearful in our journey. And then my own voice steps into the equation and tries to take care of myself, worried about what everyone else might think of me. So, in those times when I am weary or overwhelmed, how quickly do I draw near to God and receive His refreshing touch? It probably depends on which voice I’m listening to. Because the enemy wants me to be discouraged and weary, he will toss accusations at me, such as...”you should be stronger”...”you’ve been a Christian a long time, why are you dealing with that”...”your friend prayed for you last week, why are you struggling now”... “you said God touched you last week, but now you’re having a bad day”, and on it goes. If he can keep me occupied with the stuff that isn’t going right, then I delay running to the very place I need to go, and that’s the refreshing presence of the Lord. But when I can recognize the accuser’s voice and submit those lies to the voice of Truth, I will quickly return to the arms of Love and find strength and refreshment for my heart. “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Come to Me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis”. Matthew 11:28 Let’s go back to Psalm 84, and look at verse 11, where it says that the Lord wraps “Himself around me like a shield, He is so generous with his gifts of grace and glory.” That doesn’t sound like one who is upset or angry that we need His refreshing touch again! We should never feel ashamed to run to Him or feel like we are strong enough to handle things on our own. He is our source...our life...our unending love. He is the only One who can refresh us. This week may be wonderful...or it may be very tiring. Regardless of the circumstance, it’s a perfect opportunity to set aside some time to be in the refreshing presence of our God. Sit with Him and let Him love you. It may feel awkward at first, but focus on Him, and remember that He truly delights in you. It’s what you and I were created for. Let Him water your soul. Ask Him to come and fill you again. “You satisfy my every desire with good things. You’ve supercharged my life so that I soar again like a flying eagle in the sky!” Psalm 103:5 Even the favorite house plant needs to be watered on a regular basis to be healthy. Let’s drink deeply.