Sunday, June 21, 2009

Life-giving Water

Living in the Southwest, I've become much more aware of the importance of water. Put simply, water equals life. Where there is water, there is life. Without it, there's not. It's that simple. This was clearly illustrated during our drive through New Mexico last week. Interstate 25 more or less follows the Rio Grande through most of the state and as you drive along the highway you see clearly the difference: near the river, the land is green and verdant. But away from the river, it is dry, parched and covered with sparse grass and sage. Using Google Earth, follow the course of the river south from Albuquerque and you will see for yourself. You have to zoom in fairly close, because the irrigated region is quite narrow compared to the vast open spaces on both sides of the river.

Compare these pictures of New Mexico (or Arizona, or any other southwestern state) with those from someplace back east, like Connecticut, since I used that as an illustration yesterday. Do you see the difference? When you live in a place like Connecticut, or almost anywhere east of the Mississippi, or even western Washington or Oregon, you can forget the importance of water because it exists in abundance most of the time. The land is lush and green and full of life. In such conditions it is easy to take water for granted.

Scripture talks a lot about water. I like Isaiah 41:18, which reads:

I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.

Or consider Isaiah 44:3

For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.

There are many other great verses like this, so many that to recite them all here would make for a very long post. When I look at the dry land around me and consider these verses, I realize the significance of God's promise. He is saying that he will give life to his people. Where God's Spirit flows there is life. Without it, there is death.

Jesus pointed to something quite similar when he said these words:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a person remains in me and I in him, that person will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

In a grapevine, or other such vine, the vine brings water and other nutrients to the branches. If they detach themselves from the vine, they no longer will receive what they need to live. They will wither and die. It's like moving away from the Rio Grande. You can't go far before you will find yourself parched and lifeless. I want to be where there is water. I want to be filled with life. Scripture makes it clear where I need to be for that to happen. So why do I choose to wander into the desert?

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