II would estimate that I have 4,000 trees in my yard. Not really, but it feels like that when the leaves fall off of them. Because we have so many trees we have squirrels...like waaaay too many squirrels. I am convinced they are gathering on our lot because they are staging a coup and will be taking over our house soon. I'll watch them play in the yard and then in the same moment curse them because they have buried an acorn that is now growing into a tree and I have to pull these “trees” out of my garden beds and my yard. One day I was washing the dishes, watching this stupid squirrel dig in my yard. He didn't have an acorn so I assumed this one had rabies and had lost it. I wondered why it was digging! Until I saw it put its creepy little claw arm into the hole and pull out an acorn and sit there and eat it.
It may sound weird, but God speaks to me through nature and in that moment God spoke to me and explained that they will bury food so when there is nothing left on the tree they have food to sustain them through the winter so they don't starve. He began to show me the seasons in my own life where I felt like I was walking through a lifeless winter season and I felt like I was starving spiritually. He shined a light on my habit of rejoicing and celebrating during the harvest seasons and my relationship with God was placed on the back burner because I didn't "need" anything from Him at that time so He wasn't a priority. Then, when the seasons came where I needed something in my reserves to sustain me through the difficult times, I had nothing left. In those times I constantly felt like I was operating from a place of emptiness and panic, trying to pull on things that weren’t there.
Can we just be honest for a second? The world isn’t in the best condition currently. It seems like every time I turn on the tv there is something new and horrific occurring to humanity and it hurts my heart. We have to be diligent to keep ourselves filled up so when we are hit with the unexpected or we walk through a “winter” season, we have filled our reserves to sustain us so we don’t spiritually starve. I know our culture has become so casual with it’s attitude towards God and we have lost the art of storing up. Like me, many people only seek God when tragedy strikes, we forget that we still need Him even when things are “good”.
I have started this bad habit of not filling up my gas tank until it’s been on empty for a while. The gas light will turn on and I’ll see how far I can safely go until the car completely runs out of gas. I honestly don’t fill it up because I am in too much of a hurry, I’m too lazy or it’s inconvenient. All three of these excuses are the same ones I use when it comes to “storing up”. I’ve become too busy to stop and let God pour into me, I’ve become lazy and not made my prayer life a priority, and being obedient to what God wants can be inconvenient because often times what He wants is exactly the opposite of what I want. We have become so used to pushing ourselves while on empty and it never ends well.
What happens when we are empty? Our vision and perspective changes negatively. We begin to think unhealthy and dysfunctionally. We begin relationships with people we KNOW we have no business being around. Our guard is down and we make choices that are based off of our flesh, not wisdom. We form unhealthy habits. We get offended quickly and often. We become stingy and selfish. We drift off of the path God has placed us on. We take advice from people who seek revenge not reconciliation. We become hopeless. Now, this becomes exponentially worse when we are faced with a trial or tragedy AND we are spiritually empty.
Just like the squirrels in my yard, we need to be diligent to store up throughout the year. We have be consistently plugged into God and allowing Him to fill us up. You can always tell which squirrels didn't prepare well for the winter because those are the ones who get aggressive and try to steal food from the other squirrels. When we are on empty we can get aggressive with those around us who have been diligent to stay in a healthy position with God. We will try to tear them down to our empty level and honestly we lose friends that way.
Perhaps this is a new concept to you and you don’t even know where to start. I have made a short list of some tips for storing up:
Tips for storing up:
Prayer- Make this a daily habit. We need to have a relationship with God so He can fill us up daily with wisdom, direction, peace, joy, perspective, hope, faith, grace etc.
Read your Bible- Again, this should be a daily habit. Even if you are reading one verse a day we need to know what GOD says about us and the world so when we are faced with challenges, we already know what God says about it then we declare THAT truth over the situation and we don’t stop declaring it until we see the victory.
Church- Go to church! If you have been hurt by the church, you are in great company because almost every person who has ever gone to church has been hurt by the church. The church is made up of imperfect people and sometimes they say things or do things that hurt us, but this hurt gives us an opportunity to learn and grow and crucify our flesh. If you are not going to church, I want to challenge you to start.
Community- Get plugged into a community of people who can speak life into you, who you can do life with (because we are NOT meant to do life alone), who encourage you, who you trust to hold you accountable and at times need correction from. These are also the people you will lean on when you are going through a “winter” season and vice versa. Relationships are a two way street.
If you are feeling empty, you don't have to stay in that place. It's possible to start filling up now. Pray, read your Bible, go to church (even if you don't feel like it) and get int community. God isn't going to let you "starve to death". He loves you too much to let you fend for yourself, He's waiting for your permission to come in and fill you up.
Do you think that you are diligent to fill up daily?
What does your relationship with God look like?
How do you react when you are faced with a trial or challenge?