They call these the dog days of summer for a reason. It’s 100-whatever degrees outside. A trip to the mailbox is about all the time a person should spend away from their A/C. Getting home from the grocery store with ice cream requires running at least two of the not-really-that-red streetlights. And if you think people only fight for good parking spots at Christmastime, just visit a Texas Costco parking lot in July! Your rubber flip-flops could melt before you can unload a month’s supply of paper products, household cleaning supplies, and other bulk treasures. Nobody should live in Texas during July and August.
There is some spiritual burnout during these months as well. Most weekly Bible studies have taken a break. There aren’t any spiritual holidays to celebrate. Kids are out of school, and the concept of “quiet time” is a vague memory. Your pastor’s well is probably not gushing these days either, so the sermons might be a bit underwhelming. It’s hard to give your best stuff when the pews are half full. And let’s face it, the blog posts that are coming your way might be a little more whiny and less spiritual as well.
So, what does a person do when the well has run dry? (Are you beginning to realize this is a “self-help” blog post from a weary Texas author?)
Texas is known for its heat in the summer, but also for the number of oil rigs that dot the landscape. In some parts of the state, people have them in their backyards! For help with this blog, I consulted a few articles. What does a person do when their oil well runs dry? (Stick with me. There is a spiritual lesson coming.)
In the early days of the industry, an oil company used percussion drilling. That meant they just hammered away until they struck oil. When that oil dried up, they used rotary drilling because that sent the bit even deeper into the ground. Eventually, that oil tapped out as well. The big breakthrough came when someone figured out that you could drill diagonally or horizontally and reach all kinds of oil deposits that hadn’t been emptied before. What does that oil-well education mean to us spiritually? Keep reading. I’m about to do some Bible fracking, which means sending stuff into the well that will hopefully push out something of value.
1. When we first struck “spiritual oil,” seeking God was easier. We just needed to “hammer away” to learn all kinds of important biblical truths. Everything was new and important to our souls. But if we just keep drilling in those same spots, eventually the well runs dry. We will need to dig deeper.
2. Find deeper meaning and new applications for the spiritual truths of Scripture. It isn’t enough to simply read the words of the Bible. We need to study the passages using history and good commentaries, asking the Holy Spirit to apply the truth to the way we make our daily choices.
3. The big breakthrough comes when we learn to tap into some of the difficult passages to reach truths of God’s word. Think of it this way: God made sure we would have Philippians in our Bibles, but Micah and Lamentations were preserved for us as well.
4. Finally, when all the “easy oil” has been drilled for, it’s time to apply the pressure. The deepest truths of Scripture come from the hard work of spiritual discipline. When our souls dry up and our faith seems to have less value, it’s time to go in some new directions. The amazing thing about the Bible is that, if you are willing to keep working, its lessons never run dry.
I’ve spent the past several months writing a Bible study and, most recently, the Advent book the ministry sends to our donors. The interesting thing I have learned over these years is that I can spend hours and hours working with God’s word, but that doesn’t mean God’s word is working in me. The lessons I learn and teach others don’t necessarily mean I’ve applied them to my life. I need to do the hard work of putting pressure on myself to make certain biblical truth produces value in my own life. I must consume the Bible if I am going to be strong enough to teach it.
I rediscovered a few verses as I was writing the Advent book that apply to this blog post too.
• Jeremiah 15:16 – “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.” Jeremiah needed to “consume” God’s word to sustain his soul and strengthen his calling. We do too.
• Isaiah 29:19 – “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.” All of us could use some “fresh joy” during the dog days of summer. A meek person is simply one who has humbly submitted their abilities and choices to God’s perfect leadership.
Lamentations is not a book for light devotional reading, yet it contains one of the greatest truths in God’s word. During these dog days of summer, consider this wisdom for your souls: “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).
It is HOT outside, and we are still several weeks away from the cool breezes of fall. But there are “fresh joys” available for all of us. We might just need to dig a little deeper to find them. So, pour a glass of iced tea, turn off the noisy television, and tell everyone you need some quiet time. God has a new truth to give you each day if you will just drill a little deeper or in a new direction. His mercies never come to an end. He has promised to be faithful to you — forever.