Being an avid angler, I have long known the proverb common amongst the piscatorial fraternity which is “Wind from the east, fish bite the least.” I do not think I have ever heard of any science as to why this is, but I know from experience it is true. It comes as no surprise, then, that when Scripture speaks of the east wind, it is typically associated with dryness, barrenness, and an overall lack of agricultural production. References to this abound throughout the Old Testament.
Most Christians will freely confess that there are seasons in their lives when the “east wind” blows. Bible study becomes less regular, prayer becomes occasional, and a general sense of our Lord’s presence seems to be missing. What is perhaps more disturbing, is that the longer a believer continues in this state, the farther away the joy of our salvation seems to be, and the less it seems to be missed.
For any who might be reading this and feeling the same way, please know that you are not alone. While it is never our Lord’s desire that we should wander away, His loving omniscient gaze as the Good Shepherd is always aware of our plight. The late Philip P. Bliss worded it this way in a well-loved song:
“Though I forget Him and wander away, still He doth love me wherever I stray;
Back to His dear loving arms would I flee when I remember that Jesus loves me.”1
Some cause and effect principles for this east wind weather lie within our Lord’s parable of the sower (Matt. 13:3-23). Spoken to an east wind-blighted nation that had rejected Him, we can also find for ourselves some prescriptive advice for dealing with spiritual dryness.
Apathy Over What’s Familiar
The first cause of dryness is likened to seed sown by the wayside. In our lives, we may become somewhat calloused to the working of God’s Word in our lives. We can even allow it to become “background noise,” like a radio playing just below an intelligibly audible level. Verses can become little more than glib remarks, to which we subconsciously reply, “I’ve heard that before.” The truth our Lord may be trying to speak to us about may not be understood when heard in such a fashion, and never produces the fruit in our souls that would both satisfy ourselves and Him. The first prescription would be to listen intently to any time the Bible is quoted. We are hearing this portion at this moment in our experience; what is our loving Savior trying to tell us?
Prioritizing Emotional Gratification
Another cause of dryness is measuring our Christian experience by an emotional response. We’ll receive anything that makes us feel good but give little attention to a word of warning or admonition which is intended to improve the depth of our relationship with Him. Any relationship which has little depth typically has very little longevity. In a short time, something else catches our emotional attention, and the good seed of God’s Word does not even get close to germination. Let us remember that our Lord did not choose His parable elements haphazardly; the seed is a very accurate description of how Scripture works. It is not fast food in any way and must be cultivated to both produce fruit and resist dryness.
Worrying About Worrying
A third source of spiritual dehydration is anxiety. It is readily observed that the promised “easier life through technology” has not materialized. There seems to be more to worry about than there ever was, and much of that relates to how we can afford all this easy life technology we’ve amassed. While financial responsibility is entirely in order, becoming anxious about making ends meet is usually a matter of directly addressing the root cause of the ends being apart.
Our world has become a well-oiled machine at producing dissatisfaction with our present state of things, so that we may be motivated to open our wallets to consume more. A frightening level of psychological sophistication is employed to convince us that if we just had that one more thing, life would be so much better. We become anxious and fall prey to the world’s disdain for being troglodytes who do not have the latest doohickey on the market. If we resolve to be grateful and content, the allurements of the world will expose themselves for what they truly are.
Fearfulness About Earthly Things
At the time of this writing, our world has been in the grips of the Covid-19 pandemic for the better part of this year. There are unsurpassed levels of fear from our political leaders and media, which are being propagated constantly. If there is one other factor which can turn an east wind into a typhoon, it is fear. We are most certainly seeing our world bare its soul with an almost psychotic fear of death. And they have successfully been using this fear to place ever increasing restrictions upon us, including the ability to meet properly, to enjoy one another’s fellowship, and to witness to strangers. Information technology has somewhat mitigated the effects but looking at someone on a computer screen is a poor substitute for being with the real person.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that our Lord’s incarnation was to accomplish this, among other things: “And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb 4:15). Can it be that a child of God could allow this type of fear to immobilize them? Is it possible for the world’s fears to impact our own fears? The world’s view of saving lives is in reality a mere postponement of death. And for God’s people, death has lost its sting! Hallelujah!
A fresh glimpse of our Lord’s all-sufficient death, and His sure and steadfast promises can surely deliver us from this fear. History records Christians singing while being consumed alive on a fiery stake. Shall we not bow our weaknesses and fears to all sufficient grace, and consciously experience deliverance from all that dries out our souls? And as we flee back to His dear loving arms, we will know and feel the blessed truth, that Jesus loves even me!
1. Jesus Loves Even Me, Philip P. Bliss
by Rick Morse