I have never been someone who has ever been truly content. I have had seasons, as we all have, when I felt as though all was right with the world. That if things stayed as they were the world would be fine. But if I am honest, even looking back on those times is to look back through rose-colored glasses. Something that old prayer journals keep me honest about. For I have the tendency to romanticize not only the future but often the past as well.
But even still, I am tempted to believe that the grass is always greener on the other side. Each time I feel as though I had dealt with this issue, it has found some way back into my heart. As a people it's something that we can all fall prey to. And we, as people, always try to put on our best faces and make it appear that the grass if often greener where we stand. Or at least we do it for show. Perhaps deep down we know that all is not well, but we can be far to cowardly to admit it. We will do anything to make other believe that the grass is green, even if we know it to be nothing more than a long dead lawn. You can even buy organic green paint for your lawn these days, just incase you find yourself in a drought.
I must admit that when I first heard about this is thought it was a joke. Then when I first saw that it was true it made me laugh, it made me wonder what type of person feels the need to paint their grass green. In the middle of a drought when everyone knows that the grass has died, people will still spend money to make it appear that all is well. Even if the whole place is devoid of water, people will buy something to make the neighbors think they can afford the water bill to keep the grass green.
But as I laugh about people who do this, I also feel the need to admit I do the same. Now I have never painted my lawn. At least not on purpose. But I have often done something similar, but worse. I have painted myself. I have allowed myself to tell the oldest lie in the church, "I'm doing well." I have given the appearance of life, when under a layer of Christian pleasantries, I feel as though I'm dying inside.
It's in those seasons that it's so easy to isolate. And in isolation to feel even the green patches left begin to wither under the heat. Looking around we can believe that the grass is greener somewhere else. If only... And at the very root of these things is a lie, one that is so easy to slip undetected into our hearts. The lie that God is not doing what is best for us. Or perhaps, even worse, that He's not as good as we were led to believe. Or perhaps He does not hold the power that we believed. In all of these is the same lie that we as a people have always been taken by. "Did God actually say?" (Gen. 3:1) And it's when we are dry and alone that we begin to doubt. We begin to look for water elsewhere. We become like the Israelites to whom God declared through Jeremiah, "for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water." (Jer. 2:13)
See, the grass isn't greener on the other side. The grass is greener where it's watered. And so often we allow ourselves, as the Israelites did, to leave the fountain of living water and try our hand elsewhere. We carve cisterns of anything and everything. And often that hold water for a time. But leave us empty yet again, and tired from constructing them.
So we must allow ourselves to return to the fountain of living water. Perhaps you, as I do, do not feel as though the fountain is as free flowing as it once was. But in those times what is given should be treasured all the more. The refreshment of meeting together with the family of God each week, understanding that it's something needed and not merely enjoyed. To dig deep into the wellspring of Scripture as a man digging a well to save his life. Not simply as one reading to check a box off a 'good Christian' checklist. Praying until something happens, not just doing it incase we were asked. It's in these seasons that we are forced to dig our wells down deep. It's in these seasons that it matters not how wide something may be, what matters in these seasons is the depth. For only deep well may last a drought.
Even here it will be hard, even in this past week I have talked and prayed through teary eyes. But Paul reminds us through his letter to the Romans that suffering is promised, groaning through prayer is expected, and that to have hope is to patiently, which often means painfully, wait. (Rom. 8:18-25) But he also goes on to focus our gaze on our calling, election and future restoration as saints. (Rom. 8:29-30) And after this continues in his exhortation reminding all that for those in Christ are secure beyond themselves or even their own doubts. For it it is the love of the Father that has given us to Christ and nothing can separate us from that. (Rom. 8:31-38)
Perhaps you, like me, find yourself in a drought. If so, I pray that such a reminder feels as much like a cool drink of water as it does to me...