The southern part of Idaho has a desert climate….a place where a mere 13” of rain during an entire year is considered to be average. We rely on snow collecting in the mountains during the winter and early spring. This is the “snow pack”; it is measured and reported about on the nightly news. We want it to melt slowly, allowing us to use every precious drop two or three times as it finds its way into the Snake and Columbia Rivers on its way to the Pacific Ocean. A quick melt causes flooding and leaves us short of water in our reservoirs in August and September. The water forecast influences farmers’ decisions on what they will be able to plant. And, for the past six months, the news has been ominous and the term “drought” used frequently.
But last weekend, I spent two days in the mountains east of Hell’s Canyon enjoying a bounty of water.…1.6” of it, in the form of rain, hail, graupel, and snow. Heavy rain beating on the tin roof as I fell asleep. Dark clouds announcing the approach of another downpour. Light rain dotting the backs of the family’s retrievers whose thick coats never allow them to feel wet. Moisture hitting parts of the forest that burned last year, releasing the aroma of charcoal (plus lots of “brains” mushrooms and wildflowers). Creeks rushing full force downhill, fed from every direction by tiny ribbons of water. Flakes of snow collecting on the tops of feeders, confusing the hummingbirds.
It’s hard to wrap one’s brain around living in a desert in the midst of a deluge! How can both be true at the same time? Israel gets about the same amount of annual rainfall as Idaho. Certainly, the Bible speaks about water in the desert, aka “the wilderness”:
Isaiah 35:1-2 The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing.
Isaiah 35:6 Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.
Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Psalm 63:1 O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You;
my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.
Did their exodus experience shape how people in the Old Testament felt about water? Did they value God’s provision of water more than we do? Did they feel more dependent on God, and therefore feel more grateful for what water they did receive?
Take a moment to watch and listen to some video of early spring in the Idaho mountains. Think about your own relationship with water. How is God leading you to change your perspective? Might He be asking you to act differently in some specific way during the next few months?
Lord, help me to be a wise and grateful steward of all that you have given to me, including the simple things of life like water. Amen.