He turned the desert into pools of water
and the parched ground into flowing springs;
36 there he brought the hungry to live,
and they founded a city where they could settle. (Ps 107:35-36, NIV)
It’s amazing what a little water will do.
Years ago, a teacher told me a story about flying over Israel’s Negev desert. Below him, he saw a round plot of green in the midst of the dessert. Apparently scientists decided to see what would happen if they watered that one circle and didn’t touch the surrounding landscape.
It bloomed. Brilliantly, beautifully, it turned green and lush, an oasis of growth in the midst of dry, dusty, sandy desert. And even more amazingly, scientists and farmers engineered crops to grow even in the Negev’s brackish water. That’s water which has a huge salt content, from aquifers deep below the Negev Desert. Desalinization costs too much, so scientists found ways to use what was unusable.
And it worked.
Apparently, in God’s economy, abundant, green, growing life does not depend on perfect circumstances. It depends on water. Fresh water, rain, leftover water, it matters not. Water, in some form, breeds life. Incredibly, in the right circumstances, even brackish water will do.
For my parched spirit, that is good news. I want to be like the Psalmist’s person, a tree planted by streams of [living] water, yielding fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither. However, while my soul yearns desperately for God like the deer panting for streams, I look around and see no oasis.
Wait. Brackish water, he said. They bred plants to resist the salt and grow in brackish water.
Have I overlooked the brackish water in my life, thinking it unsuitable for growth? Was this my answer while I waited for the spring rains>
How many times did I look for an oasis and overlook a tiny pond? Or wait for the ‘perfect spring rain’ when there was a fine flowing river just around the corner, as yet unseen? Did I look in vain for a clean spring when brackish water was bubbling forth from the ground nearby?
Brackish water. With the Cleanser of Our Souls, our hearts are trained to absorb life even in brackish water – He turns the brackish to clean and the bitter to sweet. Somehow, with Him, my soul can glean enough moisture to live even in the driest of days.
Those small gratefulnesses I voice may lead to big exaltations down the road; at the least, bit by bit they turn my heart back to God. Those scathing reaction-words, not spoken and blurted at Jesus’ feet, may turn to blessings instead of curses. The impossible disappointments force rhythms of hope in the midst of failure that may teach me to thrive despite my surroundings.
In the world, brackish water breeds death. But… but… in His life, it’s amazing what a bit of water can do!