September 2, 2020
Dry as a Corn Shuck
You may have never heard the expression, ‘dry as a corn shuck’, unless you grew up in a rural area in the south. It’s a just a colloquial way of saying extremely dry. Christians will use the saying to describe their spiritual state — “Spiritually, I’m as dry has a corn shuck.” All believers will go through spiritual dryness in their walk with the Lord. Besides this phrase, we refer to these seasons by various idioms: spiritual drought, season of dryness, a spiritual desert, my prayers stop at the ceiling, stuck in a rut, going through the motions, etc., and others you know.
Regardless of what you call it, these are times when you feel distant from God and don’t see Him working in your life. Your prayers seem ineffective, you may feel dull, your emotions can swing up and down, or you may become deeply discouraged. Dryness doesn’t mean God has forsaken us. On occasions, He brings us into the spiritual deserts to test us and draw us closer to Him. He might be taking us to a special place but to get there we must journey through the wilderness as Israel did heading to the Promised Land. Jesus experienced this, The Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness (Mk 1:12 NET). However, not all dryness comes from God’s leading. I’ve noted an entire page of causes, but here are a few common ones.
Unconfessed sin tops the list. You may know of an unresolved sin or ask the Holy Spirit to examine your heart and show you if one is there. Then acknowledge it, repent, and your dryness will end. Unconfessed sin cuts off fellowship with the Lord. Yet, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn 1:9). A second and often the primary cause is busyness. One report states the average Christian spends fewer than 10 minutes a day in prayer. I’ve asked people why and usually they tell me they were too busy and didn’t have the time. I always taught students the most important word they would ever use is ‘no’. If Satan can’t hinder you from using your spiritual gift, he will tempt you to say yes to every request for help until you become overloaded left with little or no time for a relationship with Christ. A third contributing cause is legalism. You never feel you have done enough, so you work, work, and work leaving out time that keeps you spiritual fresh instead as dry as a corn shuck. “No amount of Christian activity compensates for an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ” (unknown).
Ministry has taken me into quiet reserved churches where no one dares say amen or hallelujah and to the opposite end in highly emotional Pentecostal-Charismatic services. As in all bible practices, the key is balance. If you are constantly suppressing your emotions, you take that home and can easily become spiritually dry. The Book of Psalms clearly shows emotions are an element of worship. However, excessive emotions can lead to believers equating God’s presence with emotions. As a result, they base their relationship with Christ on their emotions. If you don’t get emotional in church, you wonder if the Holy Spirit was present. If their emotions become unstable in life, they think they are in a spiritual desert because they can’t emotionally feel God.
The above-mentioned busyness refers to church involvement. Yet, that’s not the only challenge Christians face. Life today is beyond busy. Distractions in this world can leave us dry. I particularly remember one couple. Both were overly active in the church, but added to this time-consumer, was their involvement in sports. Their three children took part in every available sport plus this couple also competed in a sport. Both had to go the gym every morning. They owned several businesses, when they came home at night, all this left them exhausted. When I confronted him about his Bible reading and prayer, he confessed he was too busy but his answer was, “I’ll just get up earlier.” He already started his day at 4:00 AM going to the gym. That lasted a whole week—then the snooze button. Nothing sinful about any of these endeavors however, they believed they must continue in all this for their health and for their children’s betterment. As a result, their spiritual health suffered because it was last on their priority list. They wondered why they felt so spiritually dry. He once told me the Holy Spirit had never spoken to him neither had he ever experienced His presence. If unbalanced, any activity as entertainment, television, hobbies, and friends can impede our spiritual growth and freshness with God.
The last I will mention is allowing routine to become mundane. Sometimes when people ask me how I’m doing, I respond, “, same ole, and you?” “Same as you.” The answer, change your routine but easier said than done. To change the same ole mundane, you have to do something different. Make a list of all your activities and number them according to what you current do. You may need to reprioritize them or eliminate those at the bottom. Replace them with something that is fun or interests you. Look for opportunities to grow—a Bible study, attend a course, or take one online. Most of all, set aside time for studying the Word and praying. You’ll soon stop being dry as a corn shuck
Sustaining Word for the Week: As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants [should pant (emphasis mine)] for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God (Psalm 42:1-2).