DayBreaks for 11/04/13 – Doldrums and the Devil
A children’s book, The Phantom Tollbooth (1961), tells the story of a boy named Milo. One dull, rainy afternoon Milo gets a surprise, anonymous gift of a cardboard fold-and-cut tollbooth. Bored Milo builds the tollbooth and “drives through” it with his toy car.
Immediately Milo disappears from his room and finds himself traveling along a strange road in a strange land. Despite this miraculous relocation, as the road continues on and on, and the countryside rolls by and by, Milo begins to grow bored. He zones out and becomes oblivious to his surroundings. He doesn’t even notice as his car begins slows down and finally coasts to a complete stop. Rousing lightly from his stupor, Milo finally notices strange creatures draped over the hood of his car, snoozing on his head and shoulders, snoring on his dashboard. When Milo demands to know what is going on the sleepy creatures inform him that they are “Lethargians” and tell Milo that he and his vehicle are now firmly stuck in a place known as “The Doldrums.”
Of course the “doldrums” is an old nautical reference to a “dead zone” where there is no wind to fill up the sails, no strong currents to guide a vessel along. Getting out of the “doldrums” takes a purposeful expenditure of energy, a muscle-powered desire to move forward. Ancient whalers used to put their whale boats out, attached them to the main ship with ropes, and had the sailors row until the winds came up again in order to escape the doldrums.
Unfortunately it isn’t just sailing ships or bored little boys who can find themselves stranded in the “doldrums.” Entire movements can find themselves stranded in the Doldrums. Whole countries, cultures, and churches can find themselves so mired in spiritless monotony, in the security of sameness and statis, that they fail to notice they are going nowhere and are accomplishing nothing.
Individual lives can get stuck in the doldrums, too, but that certainly doesn’t appear to be what God wants our lives to be like. We may have been active in the church for years and slowly slowing down without even realizing it. We may have been hard workers at our jobs but are now slacking off because we don’t feel the wind in our sails pushing us on any more. We may have been watching, caring parents, but because of a string of years filled with the constant demands of children, we’ve lost the energy and appeal of life and now are stuck in the doldrums.
We are to live our lives side by side, hand in hand with God. God is always doing something new, something exciting, bringing new people and experiences into our lives – and it is all intentional. He wants us to take the journey with Him, to see in each new day new possibilities, new opportunities, new blessings and chances to bless. God never has a day of doldrums. In our weakness, we will have some, but it should not be the characteristic of our Christian life to live in the doldrums!
Isaiah 43:19 (NLT) For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
PRAYER: You have created a brand new day for us to live and enjoy today, Lord! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let the wind of your Spirit fill our soul-sails and push us in the direction You bid us to travel! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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