(What to Do When Your Brook Dries Up, Part 2)

In the last post I shared some ideas based on the experience of a prophet in the Bible named Elijah about what to do when we try to draw from familiar sources of support, provision (income), encouragement, or direction – only to find that they simply aren’t there anymore.  In the two days since then, I have talked to

  • a man who needed counsel and didn’t have a pastor,
  • a missionary who has seen a significant decrease in support,
  • a former lay leader in churches who is struggling to find a church home,
  • a pastor whose congregation is struggling both financially and in attendance,
  • a student whose marriage engagement has broken off,
  • a church member in another city whose pastor was terminated, then abruptly died.

What they all have in common – in the language of Elijah’s experience, their “brooks have dried up.”

I fully expect that nearly half the conversations I have tomorrow will be in the same vein.

Bottom line:  there are two kinds of people in the world – those whose brooks have dried up, and those whose brooks haven’t dried up yet, but will sometime.

Quick Review

Here is a rundown from the previous post.  If you missed it, I would encourage you to check it out in more detail.

1.  Don’t back up on your obedience to God.

2.  Seek the Lord about your direction.  

3.  Be prepared to receive your provision from a different earthly source. 

4.  Watch for God to provide through surprising channels. 

5.  Release your attachment to forms and methods. 

But wait!  There’s more!

6.  Be honest and open about your needs. 

It’s hard for some people – particularly men – to admit they have needs – that our brook has dried up.  It’s even more difficult for people in positions of leadership or influence to ask for help.  Whether it’s pride or fear of looking inept or helpless, many people would rather suffer in silence than be blessed by someone else’s kindness.

Elijah didn’t seem to have that problem.  He was courageous enough to ask for help – even from someone who was humanly incapable of meeting the need. 

One philosophy of leadership or ministry suggests that leaders should remain invulnerable – that we keep our needs known only to God and our closest intimates, or we solve our own problems.  The leader who thinks he’s the solution to all his problems has a fool for an advisor.  While you may feel safer or more independent in such a posture, you may also be cutting yourself off from a means of great help and God’s blessing.

7.  Look for a faith partner. 

I love this.  Elijah asks the little for a little food and water.  She says, “Uh, no.  All I have is a little flour and oil.  I’m gathering sticks to build a fire and make a little for my son and me, so then we can die.”

And Elijah says, “Oh, OK.  Go ahead and do that.  But bring me a little first.”

No, he wasn’t being unkind or incorrect.  When Elijah asked the widow to feed him first, he said on God’s authority that she would never lack for food.  He was living by faith and he called out faith from her.  As she trusted in God’s word, she was able to meet his need for food.  It was a beautiful relationship:  his faith met her need and her faith met his! 

Sometimes in a particularly stressful situation, it’s difficult to have enough faith to see yourself through.  So find somebody to partner with.  They can see what the Lord is doing in your life; you can see what the Lord is doing in theirs.  And your faith is mutually encouraged.

8.  Go from consumer to servant. 

In this story, God took Elijah from being just a receiver at the brook to being a giver as well.  That is the radical nature of Kingdom life.

When we encounter need, the temptation is to turn inward and focus only on receiving.  Boy, do I get that.  But in God’s economy, receiving is the result of giving.  The old sales success adage is true:  find a need and fill it! 

I’ve known some pastors who lost their ministry assignments for a variety of reasons.  Those who were most successful at reentry were the ones who never stopped serving the Lord, even when they weren’t drawing a paycheck for it.

I’ve long ago lost count of the number of people I know who have lost businesses, jobs, or careers.  Without fail, the ones who were the most successful at reentry were the ones who looked for ways to contribute to someone, somehow.  Do what you love, and love the ones you do it for; the provision will take care of itself.

9.  Get to know God during the waiting seasons. 

“Dried up brook” seasons often involve long periods of waiting.  These are opportunities to get to know the Lord more intimately.  Don’t waste available time!  

As much as the Bible tells about the life of Elijah, when I look at his entire lifespan, I see a detailed description of about six days.  What was he doing the rest of that time? 

I believe he was getting to know his God, and so can you.  The “parentheses periods” in the time line that is your life may be direct invitations from God to get to know Him better.  Don’t blow your chance!

10. Remember your place in the larger scheme of things. 

Yours may not be the only dry brook.  God may be up to something system-wide.  In 1 Kings, He was “squeezing” Israel to bring them to repentance, and Elijah was a strategic part of that.  You are no less important to God’s plan!  Look for what God is up to in the bigger picture, and join Him in His work.

The same economy that took your job may have taken dozens or hundreds of others around you.  What does that suggest about what God’s heart may be for your community, your region, your nation or the world?  How may God direct you to bond, to serve, to build new relationships, to connect with people who are in the same situation?

One thing is certain.  When your brook dries up (and it will, somehow, sooner or later), you won’t hear God saying, “Uh, oh.” 

God already had a plan and provision for Elijah.  For me.  For you, too.  It could be that the only thing missing is time and trust.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kendall March 25, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Thank you for sharing this info with us as the Lord leads you, but could you explain to me your last statement here, “it could be that the only thing missing is time and trust” could you help me understand your thought here. thank you.

Andy Wood March 25, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Sure, Kendall. Just as the Lord had a provision for Elijah, even before he knew it, if you are in one of those “dried brook” seasons, the Lord has one for you as well. If you don’t know where or what it is yet, then He will reveal it to you in his time. But sometimes “in his time” means a waiting season, where he asks you to trust Him, even when you can’t see where the provision is coming from.

Hope that makes sense.

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