Jun 122017 6 Responses

Are You Spiritually Dehydrated?

As physical dehydration begins to take a serious toll on a person, several symptoms appear. Lethargy sets in as the body attempts to conserve the limited resources it has available. Vision tunnels to just that which is right before the individual. Judgment is skewed as a person is not able to mentally process everything that is taking place.

When this occurs, a person is in serious danger. While the symptoms can be overcome with proper hydration, the lack of energy, vision, and judgment creates a difficult climate for the person to help themselves.

As a pastor, I regularly see these three symptoms spiritually–lethargy, tunnel vision, and skewed judgment. People are lethargic toward spiritual things–eternity, family, and the nourishment of their own souls. They get tunnel vision, becoming fixated on today’s temporal problems and how those problems impact them individually. Judgment becomes skewed. They cannot distinguish between right and wrong, oftentimes praising that which is evil and trying to thwart that which is good.

3 Signs of Spiritual Dehydration

Apart from a vibrant connection with Jesus, our hearts and souls will dehydrate. In response to our own foolish choices, the poor choices of others, and just because we are fallen people living in a fallen world, we will dry out without continual renewal from God’s presence.

Here are some simple questions to see if you are spiritually dehydrated:

1. Are you lethargic toward spiritual things? In a demanding world, we have to conserve energy. However, as spiritual dehydration sets in, we become apathetic toward the things that truly matter. While expending our energies in the wrong areas, we conserve in the places we should use it most. It’s a telling symptom when we find corporate worship boring, small group participation unimportant, serving others too time-consuming, and our personal relationships suffering because we are spending our energies in other areas.

2. Can you see past yourself and today? Dehydration causes tunnel vision. We become focused on ourselves and what is immediately before us. The staler our connection with God, the more selfish we become and the more fixated we are on current problems. Spiritual vibrancy gives us the big picture. It causes us to see beyond ourselves. It empowers us to recognize those on the periphery of society–who can’t do anything for us, but people for whom we can do much. A close connection with God gives perspective allowing us not to be overcome by the stresses of today because we can distinguish between eternal issues and temporal ones. If you don’t see others in need, fail to recognize how your bad choices are negatively impacting others, and are overwhelmed by today’s stresses, you are likely spiritually dehydrated.

3. Do you trust God’s way over your own? The way of Jesus is radically different than what comes naturally to us. Left to ourselves, we will choose actions contrary to the kingdom. Dehydration skews our judgment. It clouds our thinking. Spiritual dehydration causes us to trust our judgment more at the expense of wisdom. We stop trying to know God (through the Bible) which prevents us from understanding how God would have us act. We stop submitting our lives to godly people (the church) so we have no one who lovingly can tell us no. The result is inappropriate self-confidence that has destructive results.

What to Do

If you feel a sense of dryness within your heart or soul, it should be taken seriously. When first identified, spiritual dehydration can be easily treated. However, when it is ignored the symptoms worsen and can eventually impede any chance of the person getting better. As apathy sets in, our vision becomes more narrowed onto ourselves, and our judgment becomes clouded. We are far less likely to identify our problem and seek a solution.

When symptoms of spiritual dehydration are present, take action:

1. Confess your need. Simply mimicking the words of Jesus from the Cross when he said, “I thirst,” is a good first prayer.

2. Nourish your soul. Remind yourself of the truth. Identify the lies you have believed–that money can buy happiness, that earthly power can bring satisfaction, that reputation can replace character. Replace them with the truth of the Gospel–my identity is in what God has done for me, God loves me no matter what I’ve done, etc. Bible study, prayer, corporate worship, and service are good ways to get replenished.

3. Seek help. We aren’t meant to live alone. We need others–spiritual friends, mentors, and the church–to assist us through every season of life. Few things can rejuvenate a dry soul like talking about spiritual things with a friend, getting spiritual direction from a mentor, or serving someone in the name of Jesus.

4. Create a disciplined life. We all go through seasons of dryness, but it is more often a repeated experience for those who fail to live a life of spiritual discipline. Nearly every small group I attend, I dread going but am happy I went. I rarely run toward corporate worship, but it often nourishes my soul. It’s tempting to forgo service to others, but those actions regularly benefit me more than others. Discipline often creates the proper rhythm in life which will replenish our weary hearts.

Spiritual Hydration

Hydration is something I have to work on. If I’m not careful, I can get so caught up in what I’m doing that I fail to drink enough water. Especially during the summer on the golf course, if I don’t show intention about hydrating, I become dehydrated without even realizing it.

What’s true for my physical body is true for my spiritual soul.

One of the more consistent Biblical metaphors regarding our connection with God is that of water and thirst.

  • In the center of God’s garden was a river.
  • An Old Testament sign of judgment was no water.
  • The Psalmist says “as the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.”
  • Jesus taught us to “thirst for righteousness” and promised “living water.”
  • The Bible ends in Revelation with the “river of the water of life.”

A person with a vibrant connection with God is spiritually hydrated. It allows them to operate as God desires for them. But when we are distanced from God’s truth, our hearts and souls will dry out.

If you are thirsty, come to the waters and drink.


6 Responses to Are You Spiritually Dehydrated?

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