In nature and in life, seasons can bring droughts.
I’ve been taking frequent walks lately, but avoiding the route I used to take with my dog Teddy (more on that another time). But for the first time in eight months, I braved the memories and took the trek around our lake community.
Several seasons have passed in my absence, so I was shocked to see how much the water level in the lake receded.
I don’t know about other parts of the country, but the northeast is suffering a drought. Water restrictions are posted on every community marquee and in printed bulletins. This year, the leaves have turned more muted shades of yellow and gold rather than their usual hues of red, orange and purple. The number of picture-worthy trees was diminished and noticeable.
But I was not prepared to see the lake. In almost twenty years living in this community, I’ve never seen small islands break the water’s surface. At one end of the lake, I could walk across the width from bank to bank without getting wet. I saw forty yards of dry earth where water used to flow. Shallows where there used to be depths.
It was stunning. And a little frightening.
Droughts come in many forms. There are many ways I’ve experienced drought in my life and maybe you’ve faced some of these too.
There are financial droughts, where limited resources shrink even further with unexpected repairs for appliances that break, teeth that crack, and cars that sputter. You hold your breath while hearing the estimate, because any amount feels catastrophic.
There are droughts of physical energy, sometimes due to accident or illness, with pain or exhaustion in the execution of simple, everyday tasks. Or, sometimes the busyness of a typical day just catches up with us and it’s impossible to do anything but lie down.
There are social droughts, where you feel out of step with friends who’ve entered a different stage in their lives than you. The ties that bind you are rearranging themselves to form a new design that might be equally beautiful, but different. And while that happens, you feel lonely.
I distinctly remember suffering through this drought following my divorce many years ago. While my friends were having their second and third babies, I was a single parent, navigating the dating world again. Our lives were taking us in very different directions. It took every effort to stay close and connected.
Or maybe you’ve moved away from family and friends and find yourself starting over in a new community. While you acclimate to a new neighborhood, maybe new bonds of friendship and belonging are slower to develop, leaving you lonely, isolated or homesick.
There are creative droughts, where ideas no longer flow and thoughts struggle to find expression. Hours are spent in front of blinking cursors, flat sentences deleted in their entirety. You hear yourself sigh and feel a creeping anxiety that inspiration has deserted you permanently. Most people who engage in an artistic pursuit have experienced this kind of drought at one time or another. I certainly have.
Sometimes droughts go on for longer than we expect. Coping strategies and patience are both tested. It is during these times that a drought in any one area can feed the most serious drought of all.
A drought of the spirit can occur on its own or in combination with any depletion described above. When suffering from this type of drought, hope is lost and darkness overwhelms. Disappointment crushes and life seems to have no purpose. We forget we are loved. Our faith is tested, because it’s hard to understand why God would allow such pain in our lives.
The only solution that’ll restore my neighborhood lake is a serious supply of water from above.
Same for us.
We need the “living water” that is God in order to be restored and refreshed.
When faced with a problem, often I go into fix-it mode. I read as much as I can. I discuss, plan, and organize how to deal. But sometimes in my attempts to solve these problems on my own, I forget who is the source of the solution.
It’s not me.
I forget that the solution is less about what I can do and more about what God can do.
In times of drought, we need to be saturated in truth: that God loves and cares for us, and promises to never leave us. He hears our prayers for help and comfort.
And when we faithfully trust God and pray, sometimes we stand witness as He pours out mercy, blessings and provisions that come at just the right time and often in unexpected ways, even if our bank accounts and pockets are depleted.
When we feel isolated but choose to spend time with Him, He draws near, lifting our loneliness and showering us with companionship.
When our prayers rise up, sometimes we watch creative blocks get washed away with ideas that materialize out of thin air like small miracles.
And when circumstances threaten to overwhelm, and we cry out to Him, God’s love rushes in to flood our heart and soul.
The living water is the only place to be truly refreshed and restored. To be instilled with life and purpose, peace and confidence.
And the best thing about this water is its availability. It is possible to tap into its infinite reserves anytime, anywhere. The living water of God is only a prayer away.
Let it rain down on you and me.
What drought are you struggling with today? Spend time with God and invite Him into the dry places, letting His love drench you in peace.
Scripture for Reflection
But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”