I find myself drawn to the image of streams in the desert. A friend of mine, Jeffrey Ward, travels with his wife each year to the desert to reconnect with one another and rest their souls. The pictures in this post are his.
I haven't spent much time in the desert. I live in lush NJ with its four distinct seasons and plenty of fertile soil to grow vegetables most of the year. Yesterday as I drove home from church I was noticing the very green lawns after having two days of rain last week. We are rarely in worry of a drought and when we are it seems so foreign.
On a spiritual level also, I have not spent much time in drought circumstances. Even when I look at the last ten years of my husband and I navigating the realities and loss of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, life has been sad but not arid. As a pastor, I have experienced only 2 or 3 circumstances where I felt I had to dig deep to find wisdom and strength. And when I did the necessary digging, I found that indeed there was a deeper well in my soul.
In fact, in one of those times I remember thinking to myself, "how did this well get so deep?" Who dug this well for me? When was it dug? And I realized that much of my well was dug by my parents and other loving adults in churches past. And then as an adult, much of my well is dug by others who travel alongside me. Through the daily grind of life, we dig a little each day, each week, each year.
Wells are not dug in one day.
There are certain times when I feel myself dehydrating. And I'm one of those people who disciplines myself to drink more water - literally and proverbially. I find a good book. I pick up my journal and begin to write. I exercise a little more or cook a little more or find something that is life giving to do.
Our church has a Wellness Center at which we host a Suppers Program. "Suppers is a learn-by-doing program... that seeks to provide safe and friendly settings where anyone, and especially people with food-related health challenges, can develop and manage their own personal transitions to a healthier life." I love this program because it when we gather, it feels like we're creating a well, digging deep into what feeds us physically and then ultimately spiritually and emotionally. We leave the meal feeling full, inside and out. Or at least I do. And the other participants have helped dig my well that feeds me.
A couple months ago, two of us decided to do a "water challenge." We challenged one another to drink at least 64 ounces a day as an experiment. We are looking at how we feel fully hydrated. How we feel is data. The data I have gathered is significant. When I am fully hydrated, I eat less. I am able to concentrate more. I get more done. My day appears to flow better.
The thing about drinking water each day is that I have to drink it each day. I can't bank water in my body. This is not the same when it comes to our emotional or spiritual life. With prayer and worship, reading and reflection, we cultivate a well in our lives. We have this place to draw from when we need it.
I imagine the prophet Isaiah, watching the people live in an arid season of life and trying to remind them that beneath the surface, really deep beneath the surface of this dry land is a stream. We need to dig for it and we will find streams in the desert.
I imagine James speaking to a people who were discouraged after a period of long suffering. And he's beseaching them to continue with their patience - wait for the Lord whose day is near. Waiting need not be passive. Waiting can be the time to dig our wells. Somewhere down there there is a stream running through the desert.
Take a few moments and dig your well with this favorite from David Wilcox, "All the Roots Grow Deeper When Its' Dry."
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