Please allow me to impress you with my agricultural, horticultural, botanical, and ecological knowledge for just a moment. When rainfall is plentiful things grow well ... when there is no rain plants do poorly and even die. That pretty much sums it up!
After experiencing last fall's drought and watching so many plants and trees simply die due to lack of water, it's amazing now in the midst of so much rain to see everything growing and flourishing! The grass is greener ... flowers are brighter ... plants stand straighter ... vegetation is more plentiful ... etc. Sufficient rain is essential to plant health.
Now allow me to display my impressive theological knowledge. When a believer is saturated in the means of grace (God's Word, prayer, sacrament) he or she will flourish ... when a believer is not really engaged in these things he or she will do poorly. That pretty much sums it up!
I'm amazed at how hard my heart often becomes and nine out of ten times it's because I'm not really engaged with the means of grace God has given. I somehow imagine and even expect God to zap me with some sort of secret spiritual fertilizer vitality growth enhancement formula product that bypasses the ordinary means of Bible Study, prayer, and regular observance of the Lord's Table with His people. Unfortunately, I haven't found that product yet ... likely because it doesn't exist! The sad thing is that I continue my relentless search for it. Likely many who profess Christ do this same thing. Do you?
Don't misunderstand what I'm getting at here. I'm in no way saying that a regular devotional time and faithful worship attendance obligates God to give you a comfortable or easy life. In fact, it may actually result in greater suffering, hardship, and persecution as we more closely follow Jesus and become more like Him. Yet even if that is the case we can be confident that being soaked in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (through His means of grace) will enable us to experience life in totally different way ... life is sweeter, brighter, straighter, more colorful, more plentiful, etc. Why? Not because our circumstances magically change, but rather because our focus is the unchanging beauty and sufficiency of Jesus.
Friends, please don't underestimate the importance and necessity of being fully engaged with the means of grace. Make it a priority to get involved with a small group of fellow believers who are digging into God's Word together and praying for each other. Don't minimize the value and nourishment received from weekly worship attendance where the Gospel is proclaimed, God's family prays, and we eat together at the Lord's Table. Make sure you have personal daily intake of Scripture and daily express your heart to your Father in prayer. And don't just do these things in token amounts.
Please don't expect to have a flourishing or abundant Christian life apart from these things. It doesn't take a scientist to know that rain is good and drought is bad. Also, it doesn't take a theologian to know that Christians need to be saturated in the Gospel through the simple and ordinary means of grace in order to grow and thrive. Maybe last fall we were glad just to keep our plants from dying so we occassionally applied a little water to them ... but as God's children we know that the Gospel is free and abundant, no shortage whatsoever! Don't just settle for survival with a light sprinkling every so often. Let the rain of the Gospel fall in abundance and may our hearts and lives flourish with the fruit of grace!