Though it is true a Site Search Engine can be found at the bottom of this article (or click on this link for the main Search Page), this page is mostly about searching after Jesus Christ! I hope you'll read this article first and that you'll seek Him first before you search for anything else!. Wow! ... Quite an awesome and ominous image up there, huh? It seems I was confused as to what my title was about on this page: is it Desert Storm? Or a Storm in a Desert? Or Storming the Desert? Or desert because of a storm? Above is a photograph taken of Kilchurn Castle. This picture was taken through a sheet of ice cold sleet during what the photographer said was a VERY heavy sleet storm!!! It was the only shot the photographers could get that day as they were just getting too soaked and cold to go on that day! So at 10:30 that Saturday morning they quit and went back home. So why would I be so drawn to this image that I used this ugly (or to some of beautiful) picture as an background screen saver and now it is still a favorite? This old castle has been abandoned for 200-300 years. Finally one day it was revealed to me why I liked it. When I was 8 years old and on vacation at the (my grandparents favorite hangout) Michigan cottage at Round Lake, Howell, Michigan I got a comic book from a box in Grandma's closet about a bunch of knights in armor: crusaders looking for the holy grail. Soon there was something in the comic about some castle (?? Maybe the Castille?) where St. John of the Cross had stayed and how this man stayed on his face before God and somehow entered into high places of communion with God after days and days (actually it took years) of prayer and staying alone in this castle with a torch on the wall….. and probably I got the information wrong but anyhow I felt a peace drawing my heart back then go through me like a gentle breeze and no doubt it was one of the major influences on my life that led me. Hmmmm … strange how God works even on a small boy's heart and how He makes an influence. Didn't know that years later I would be getting into the writings of St. John of the Cross and learning he's considered the top author of deep contemplative experience of God, and one of the greatest "mystics" who ever lived. Well the Lord knows I have since realized there are so many truths hidden from the majority of Christians who don't have a clue there's a far more abundance to the Christian life than they have been taught and it cannot be found in teaching but only in Christ Himself.
About 3 days after I realized why I was attracted to such an ugly old castle (I still think the picture is pretty cool --- actually cold!!) I asked my wife why she wanted to become a phlebotomist and draw blood from people's arms and what was her motivation (she now has a full time job doing this and has paid quite a price to learn and go to school to get it, etc.) and she said "when I was a little girl, I needed my blood drawn and this lady was so nice to me …" (!!!!) Well! There you have it - the influences of childhood have quite an effect on us huh?
I guess the picture of Kilchurne reminds me of how we should seek God even when things aren't the best. By God's sovereign arrangement I had been brought face to face with the depth inherent in the man and the writings of St. John of the Cross. I also learned how he personally knew and worked with another very influential shining star, who had influenced not only her own but many other generations by her example and writings: St. Teresa of Avila. She also wrote "The Interior Castle." In that work she represents the soul (as it had been pictured to her) as a castle which has many rooms and chambers within which there is the very holy of holies in the innermost chambers which is a place of extreme light, fire and absolute union and oneness with God. These were realities she had not just seen but experienced. However in the outer courts of the castle there may be snakes and lizards and other troubling and distracting elements to keep you from penetrating deeper within. Probably when I was eight I wasn't reading or remembering too accurate but I thought the comic had said St. John of the Cross was stuck in the castle due to bad weather for 4 days (Actually my boyhood impressions and bad memory seem to have no historical reality - if anything God did His deepest work when John of the Cross was put in prison where he was centered upon Christ into such contemplation as is rarely known upon earth.) where he sought God on his face the whole time or was it a picture of a priest on his face? Can't remember but now I know that the message from the Lord to my heart was the important thing: that God treasures intimacy with Himself above anything else. The torch giving light and heat which hung on the castle walls is significant. One of the books John of the Cross actually wrote is called "The Living Flame of Love." It was his works and Teresa of Avila's which have much to say on a closer love towards God that becomes so sweet that when the relationship reaches a certain extent, the Lord's absence (you'll find He comes and goes as He pleases in His Own time!) causes something like a wound even as the girl in SOLOMON'S SONG says she was sick of love. Upon this wound the Lord sets up a flame that never again goes out and consumes the self life. Sometimes this flame is very pleasurable and yet painful all at once. Now, how come YOU don't know anyone who has had this experience?!!! If you do please e-mail me. But not only was it quite common back in St. John of the Cross' time but when major revivals of vast outpourings of the spirit of God has taken place there have been reports of this kind of experience once again. It seems we are living in a really shallow age. Why? I will touch on one reason only in this article as there are many.
If you read my book on the Lost Keys, you were probably impressed with my time of prayer in my lonely rack onboard ship when it seemed God didn't exist. It didn't take me very long to give up, did it but THAT prayer sure got answered though it seemed at the time God was on vacation and didn't care. He seemed to be "out to lunch" but He was listening and working in a more hidden type of way and had already prepared an answer before I even started to speak!
How we need to press forward through the dry spells. God is doing His best work during those times but how easily we are discouraged from prayer and a spiritual life! This is where these false doctrines saying "he's so heavenly minded, he's no earthly good," etc. have come from. The real truth is that men who take the time (and believe me it takes time and it is time well spent!) to intimately know Jesus Christ and become heavenly minded are the kind that REALLY become earthly good on a scale much more vast than others. These are some of the ones who change the history books and powerfully influence others. But many of these same persons (who I discuss somewhat on my deeper life page.) are some of the ones who before they went into the world with such power retreated into the inner chambers with God and seemed to ignore the poor hurting world for awhile so they could take the necessary time to become intimate with Christ! Whoops! I hear someone saying out there "why this waste? This fragrance, or substance, or time or whatever it was could've been sold for such and so much and benefited those who are poor or lost or less fortunate. We don't have time to stay on our knees …. We need to save a world headed for hell! BUT, my beloved ones, there is according to Ezekiel a ministry to the house and a ministry to the Lord and its time we realized which is more important. If man's needs are not always met it does not hurt in the long haul at least but if God's needs and desires are not met then it effects the eternal purpose! If I do not mention these facts I'm not proclaiming the true and full gospel of Christ. Christ stated that the woman who wasted her expensive perfumed ointment upon His feet would be spoken of wherever the gospel was proclaimed. If she had not poured her love upon the Lord there would not have been such a fragrance of His resurrection as those ointments and spices made up a part of His preparedness of His body. I'm afraid that few care about such outward things before God which represent the inward love of a CRAZY lover!
So what are we talking about? Being a ardent seeker of Jesus even when you don't feel His presence or even if you think He's dead like the poor girl outside the cold grey tomb! There are benefits to charging forward like a crazy maniac to seek to be found inside Jesus Christ.
I think one of the best encouragements as to dry spells and why they occur can be found in the writings of Michael Molinos who is the man that came closer to causing a great revival in the Catholic Church than anyone else who has ever lived. His writings above all other writings specify the awesome benefits of the dry times and just what they will do for you and they have encouraged me to keep praying even when it seems fruitless, pointless and a waste (there's that word waste again!) of time!
Sorry for the old English quotes but I'm taking these quotes form Hall Worthington's website version of the "Spiritual Guide" where Molinos enters the benefits of dry prayer! Please forgive the old English. To buy the revised modern English translation Gene Edwards' SeedSowers page has got it.
Humility - " Know that the Lord makes use of the Veil of Dryness, to the end we may not know what he is working in us, and so be humble; because if we felt and knew what he is working in our Souls, satisfaction and presumption would get in "
Weaning from sense centeredness - " Lay this down as a firm ground in thine Heart, that for walking in the inward Way, all sensibilitie should first be removed; and that the means God uses for that is driness. By that also he takes away reflection, or that view, whereby the Soul Eyes what it is doing, the only impediment that obstructs the advancing forward, and God communicating himself, and operating in it. "
Perseverance - " The first is to persevere in Prayer, from which fruit springs many other advantages"
The Loathing function! New desires! - " Thou'lt find a loathing of the things of the World, which by little and little tends to the stifling of the bad desires of thy past Life, and the production of other new ones of serving God."
Developing a sensitive conscience! - " Thou'lt reflect upon many failings on which formerly thou didst not reflect."
Protection from evil! - " Thou'lt find, when thou are about to commit any evil, an advertency in thy Heart, which restrains thee from the execution of it, and at other times from Speaking. Lamenting, or Revenging thy self; that'll take thee off from some little earthy Pleasure, or from this or t'other Occasion "
Change! - " After that through frailty, thou hast fallen in to some light fault, thou'lt feel a Reproof for it in thy Soul, which will exceeding afflict thee."
The cross and the will of God! - " Thou'lt feel within thy self, desires of suffering, and of doing the will of God."
Strength to overcome and conquer! - " An inclination to Virtue, and greater ease in overcoming thy self, and conquering the difficulties of the Passions, and Enemies that hinder thee in the way."
Transforming knowledge of the self and the Lord! - " . Thoul't know thy self better, and be confounded also in thy self, feel in thee a high esteem of God above all created Beings, a contempt of Creatures, and a firm Resolution not to abandon Prayer, though thou knowest that it will prove to thee a most cruel Martyrdom."
Sanctification in every area of life! - " Thoul't be sensible of greater Peace in thy Soul, love to Humility, confidence in God, submission, and abstraction from all Creatures; and finally the Sins thou hast omitted since the time that thou exercised thy self in Prayer, are so many signs, that the Lord is working in thy Soul, (though thou knowest it not) by means of dry Prayer; and although thou feelest it not whilst thou art in prayer, thou'lt feel it in his due time, when he shall think it fit."
This is quite an encouraging list, huh?!! Wow! The writer of Hebrews was not lying when he said God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him but hey! Anybody can do that when you got the feel goods! Or when you got the goose bumps!
Of course I'm not just talking about the deserts, I'm also talking about the storms! What do you do when you have a request or desire? The scripture says if you delight in Christ He will give you the desires of your heart. Now just because sometimes we must face dryness and denying of self does not mean that the person who loves God does not have valid needs and desires and requests for blessings from the Lord.
There used to be a spoken message audio file on the internet by Frank Viola that really did shed abundant light on this whole subject. It was called "Holy Violence: Pressing Into Jesus Christ" but he doesn't have that one online at this time.
I think in that message he spoke of several Biblical cases of individuals who would not be stopped for anything in getting into a relationship to Christ and gaining His grace and miracles. It is amazing what human need and destitution can work for the purposes of God! For one thing it causes the heart to rise up and search after Him with all their heart BUT only if there's faith! Frank mentioned the men who broke up the roof of a house and destroyed it just to get a crippled man to Christ! Another case is that of the Syrophenician woman and I think Frank says she was discouraged four times by the disciples and Christ Himself but I counted five! What would you do if you had cold water poured on you 5 times?? Give up yet???? Not yet!?? I bet you would! But that woman didn't! That's why Jesus was totally amazed at her to the point of awe! That's also why He said of the last days "when the Son of Man comes shall He find faith on the earth? Here's the woman's story: 1st, Matt. 15 says "lo, a Canaanitish woman, coming out from those borders, cried [to him] saying, Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is miserably possessed by a demon. 23 But he did not answer her a word." The silent treatment! How cold! If He were testing her faith it sure didn't seem like it - it seemed as if He were motivated by racial prejudice and a rude lack of social tact! 2nd, the disciples get in on the act "And his disciples came to [him] and asked him, saying, Dismiss her, for she cries after us." She was crying out! That woman just didn't quit, did she?!! But here is the second pouring of cold water. If the Lord sent you the sleet storm would you still go forward into the inner castle? How about it? 3rd, He shows His racism (??) and apparent disdain for any of "those non-Jew types." He said to her "I have not been sent save to the lost sheep of Israel's house." Now the fifth sleet storm of rejection can be found in Mark 7. Matt 15 says she came to pay Him homage which suggests worship but Mark 7 says He was in a house to hide from people and get away from it all and was probably in no mood to be bothered. " And he rose up and went away thence into the borders of Tyre and Sidon; and having entered into a house he would not have any one know [it], and he could not be hid. 25 But immediately a woman, whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, having heard of him, came and fell at his feet." Wow! Did she break into the house??? Or just barge in? Well this hiding away thing was a further rejection and a "not welcome" sign. At this point she fell on her face but even that did not do it! "and fell at his feet 26 (and the woman was a Greek, Syrophenician by race), and asked him that he would cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 But [Jesus] said to her, Suffer the children to be first filled; for it is not right to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs. 28 But she answered and says to him, Yea, Lord; for even the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs. 29 And he said to her, Because of this word, go thy way, the demon is gone out of thy daughter. 30 And having gone away to her house she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed." He called her a dog! A dog!! But her faith in the love of God won out and her faith having been tried in the fire - or the desert - or the cold sleet storm or whatever it was was made perfect, she having obtained what she desired! What a blessing! If you are going to give up on anything DO NOT GIVE UP ON SEEKING GOD OR YOUR FAITH IN GOD!!!
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