A Rainy Day in the Desert

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As I am writing, the remnants of our monsoon season are spattering the ground outside my new home.  I recently uprooted my family and moved from the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon to the Mohave Desert of Arizona.  I live near the base of a mountain chain that opens up to a dry high desert valley that runs all the way to the end of the Grand Canyon.  It’s beautiful, though I am finding that I am having some difficulties in adjusting to the climate.  Dehydration seems to happen very quickly here, even on a relatively mild day (for Arizona), and I seem to find myself always in need of a cool drink of water.  In fact the other day while getting some treatment at my VA clinic, I passed out mid-sentence due to dehydration.  They ended up giving me two units of IV saline to bring me out of it.  The funny thing is that I didn’t feel dehydrated, and would have stated that I was taking care of my hydration well enough, but I was wrong.  I remember in boot camp being forced to drink water.  “Drink Water!” seemed to be one thing the drill instructors were always yelling.  Before we would “rack out” each night they would make us drink two canteens full of water and prove that we had finished them by turning them upside down above our heads.  Water is very important for us, especially when active.  Since my little embarrassing passing out incident, I have considered drinking water more.  I have also been contemplating hydration here in the desert.  There is a desert tree here called the Ocotillo.  It’s beautiful, a spiny tree that looks like a cactus with leaves.  The blossoms are a scarlet red and it is vibrant here in the high desert.  I discovered that it survives on small amounts of water a year, but that when it gets that water it uses it immediately and can survive off that small amount for months.  After rainfall, the ocotillo quickly blossoms and grows and attracts birds, animals, and insects that it needs to pollinate and fertilize.  I have to admit that it was for healing that I came to the desert.  The dry heat helps with my pain, but that’s not the only reason I moved here.  I felt that I needed to give my life a hard reset to find the balance that I have lost.  But what I am beginning to realize is that the desert can teach me about balance in life.  It’s no secret that I have struggled not only with my physical and mental health but also, and perhaps most importantly, with my spiritual health.  I often feel like a desert.  Dry, dusty, and lacking what I need for vibrant growth.  But then I look around and see what the Mohave is showing me.  What appears to be dead and dry isn’t exactly that.  The rain that falls for mere moments over the Hualapai’s is quickly drank by the thirsty desert and an explosion of life occurs within hours.  Cactus bloom, wildflowers spring up out of nowhere.  What was a scene of browns and yellows suddenly has purple, red, and green.  Life explodes to take advantage of the water.  What looks like trails of smoke is actually insect life.  What was a sandy patch of ground is suddenly a flower covered meadow.  See, here the rain comes infrequently but when it does arrive the land is ready to use it.  I know that the Bible often uses analogies of spiritual health as deserts, or valleys, or trees bearing fruit.  I also know that unlike the rain in the desert that I am watching today, God doesn’t want to send His water (blessings, healing, truth, Spirit) infrequently.  Isaiah describes this as “joyous drawing from a spring,” “pouring out on a thirsty ground with streams on the desert,” and as “rivers flowing.”  The language brings pictures of certain and steady fountains of water.  Christ, in talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, uses water as an analogy of His gift of salvation and adoption into God’s family that is everlasting.  It won’t (can’t) run dry.  The God side of the equation is constant.  It’s ready.  There is no delay, and there is no supply issues.  The rain clouds that we have in the Mohave are dependent on many variables, some that don’t occur at a time when the clouds overhead form or empty onto the dry desert.  God’s not like that.  The rain, the water, is there.  That’s where the desert here has it’s lesson.  It’s always ready to make use of the rain.  Am I?  Are we?  Because of God’s graciousness,  I am actually free to make my choice about whether I will drink the water that He has readily supplied.  When the rains of His love fall around me, I can easily sit in my little slice of the desert and say, “you know, I’m thirsty but I think I’ll wait till the next storm.”  How ridiculous I can be.  I once was told by an infantry instructor that the best place to store water is in your body.  How utterly foolish and how humiliating would it be to die of thirst with a full canteen?  Sometimes, probably more that I would like to admit, I am dying with a full canteen.  Drink water and live.




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