Monday, August 8, 2011

A Dry and Thirsty Land

This summer’s heat has been brutal. Even before summer officially began we had temperatures in the 100s, rare for June. In July the heat was oppressive, often reaching above 105. Hearing 108 degrees on the weather forecast became routine, and the actual temperature reached 111 three times. The number of days we’ve reached 100 degrees or more this year is now at 41. Even in our air-conditioned homes we sweat. The heat in the closed up car can literally take one’s breath away.

With just a brief foray outdoors the effects of the heat is evident. Instead of a lush, green lawn, a yellowish brown covers the yard. “Crunchy” is not normally an adjective I’d use to describe my yard, but it is appropriate this summer. The hedges on the north side of my house have literally burned in the sun. The top two to three inches of these hedges are brown and brittle from the sun’s merciless heat.

Large cracks criss-cross the back yard and perennials wilt in the heat. Our tomato plants refuse to set fruit, even with diligent watering. Even the purple coneflowers, native to Kansas, and accustomed to hot summers, fail to flourish in the heat. Their flowers are small and the normally bright purple petals lack their usual brightness.

This morning I sleep in until 8, and wonder whether I should walk. I’m not so sure I can stand the oppressive heat. But when I look out the front door, I see gray cloud cover, a rare sight this summer. I open the door and feel cool, clean wind blow in my face. It feels so good! Immediately, I open windows and let the 74 degree freshness blow into the house. With excitement, I lace up my walking shoes and head outdoors.

Less than ¼ mile from home, I see the first raindrop before I feel others, cool and refreshing to my skin. Drops as large as half dollars dot the street. I scan the sky, looking for lightning. Seeing none, I decide to continue toward the nature trails for my hour-long walk, rejoicing in the clean, cool rain. The rain is sporadic and I’m sheltered by the trees in the nature preserve. With every step I take, I thank God for the refreshing rain and the cooler weather.

We had rain last week, too, a welcome respite from the heat, but the temperatures quickly climbed back to over 100 degrees. Walking on the trails, I see how the previous rain has affected the woods. Instead of brown grass growing alongside the path, green reaches toward the sky! How beautiful the bright green appears!

As I walk, I thank God for the refreshing rain, and ask His spirit to rain on our land. In many ways our people are as dry and thirsty as the Kansas prairie this hot summer. So many souls are dry and parched, thirsting for the living water of God’s spirit. But just as the dry, crunchy grass can once again sprout new, green leaves, so also can souls escape a spiritual dryness.

Rain on us, Lord, rain on us. Fill our souls full to overflowing with your love, mercy, and grace. Green us up, Lord, green us up.

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.”

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