When we moved to our current home, we were informed that the previous owners did not install irrigation in any portion of the property. They relied on dragging a hose around. We tried this as well for our first year, but it gets pretty wasteful, tedious, and surprisingly annoying to just carry around the hose to different parts of a property depending on the different days of the week. So we took a bold step: we installed irrigation.
There were several learning curves along the way: how to make an irrigation plan, how to have your well inspected and potentially replace the water pump, how to rent, transport, and operate a trencher on multiple days, how to lay out pipe and glue it, how to get the sprinkler heads properly connected, etc. We just finished installing our last sprinkler this weekend. Now I am learning about what it feels like to be done messing with watering via dragging hose…in short, apart from the burning blisters on my hands and the sunburns I have earned, it feels glorious! It was worth it for us. It’s fun to watch the water just go everywhere all at once!
I am surprised at how important water has become for me in the process as well. I am aware of what needed water that wasn’t getting enough before whether it was a tree, garden area, or our strawberry patch and figured out how to get it the water it needed. I saw a difference watering made dramatically for our living space. I saw God in watering even the grass.
We carry an often-spoken-of symbol of God’s presence mixed with water: Baptism. Some see it as an indoctrination rite, eternal fire insurance, or something else entirely. Whatever interpretations may have been added to baptism, its foundation is that it is a gift meant to nourish life which God has given us. It is a gift which is for our benefit, to make a difference in how we are watered and that we might be watered thoroughly. Baptism puts water on the lawn of our lives, one might say.
We hear God’s presence mixed intimately with water and the lawn of our lives when we hear Isaiah comparing God’s promises of prosperity to the Israelite people returning from a time of exile:
“The LORD will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.”
These words reveal a God whose foundation for relationship is the gift of life and presence. Not who is in the best spot in life or who is the most impressive at the time. These words were spoken to former exiles. What hope! What gift!
I wonder if the gifts of baptism can end up feeling limited, as if someone was dragging a hose around. Maybe we just fall into doing the same things in church communities, or in our individual lives for no other reason than just for the sake of doing them. Maybe we are only hearing that faith is good for “me and Jesus” but doesn’t need to have any further bearing. To me, these possibilities still reflect a pattern of discipleship that is still founded on the waters of baptism, God’s gift of life, and God’s ability to show up anywhere, but we may be dragging the hose around because that’s how the previous owners just did it.
I also wonder if the gifts of baptism can end up as if we are installing an irrigation system. Maybe we got active in a faith-based service opportunity. Maybe we were inspired by God’s love for us that we see God in everything around us and take time to point it out. Maybe we are hearing that faith is good for “Jesus, the world, and me” all at the same time. Inspired togetherness may just be a sign of the gift of baptism: watering places that may not have received enough water before, several learning curves, finding meaning beyond the task.
I realize this maybe a bit of a strange analogy at first. I may be still riding my euphoria at completing this project. But I hope we can celebrate a bit together, because God is in watering the grass. While we’re at it, I hope we can celebrate God’s watering in our lives too. I hope we can embody channels for God’s life-giving water to flow and spray into places of the world which need more than they usually get for whatever reason. I hope we witness other channels and ways that God’s gift of life and love for us flow and spray too.
Because it’s fun to watch the water just go everywhere all at once.
What is being watered in me? What needs watering? What might my “faith irrigation” need to look like right now?