Posted on April 23, 2014
When I’m Dry and Thirsty
“Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.” Hebrews 6:7-8
As I read these words this morning, I stopped and closed my eyes. The image in my head was of dry, red clay-like soil. The rain was pelting the hard ground, splat, splat, splat. The water, quickly accumulating, was running off of the hard ground. This hard, dense dirt, desperately in need of soaking in the sweet rain, seemed to reject it instead, clearly refusing to accept the life-giving water that would cause things to grow there.
Try as I did to envision sweet, freshly tilled, dark, rich soil soaking in the rain, I couldn’t. In that moment I sensed fear. Fear of what, I don’t know. Just fear mixed with anxiety and stress and a sense that I was protecting myself from something, like the dry dirt refusing to accept the rain. Arms wrapped tightly around my chest, afraid to come out or let anyone in, I sat in my chair wondering what had sent me into this hardness and hiding.
Henri Nouwen, in his book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, says that we are like the son, stripped of everything, hoping to just come home and be a hired servant. But that’s not what the father in the parable of The Prodigal Son did. He returned him to his position as a son, despite whatever he had done. I imagine the son, arms tightly wrapped around his chest, groveling, hoping for just a morsel of acceptance. Did he open his arms and embrace his father when his father embraced him? Or did he, like me, refuse to drink in the life-giving water of forgiveness and love and choose instead to protect himself?
I got in the shower and felt the warm water rain down on me. Slowly, I breathed in deep and exhaled long, willing my arms to stretch out wide and drink in the moment. Hard, dry ground beginning to crack, allowing the rain to penetrate its hard shell and bring hope to the seeds buried beneath the surface.
I am forgiven. I am loved. I am His beloved. I can trust. I don’t have to fear. I can take each day, each struggle, each insecure moment and allow them to become part of the whole ME that is the recycled work of God in my life. Not perfect. Human.
You see, sometimes I just get caught up in the demands of life. A million thoughts flash through my brain all day, every day. Why didn’t I just…? I should have said… Do my kids know how much I love them? Did that employee really understand me? I retreat. I give up. I am certain I just can’t do it. Life then becomes a chore. The dry ground becomes a hardened shell and that life-giving water of the Spirit goes sliding right off of me as I hold tightly to those things that take up so much space in my mind.
I want to be the rich earth, dark and full of life-giving nutrients where real life can grow. In the end, I have to accept I will make mistakes, but those mistakes, rather than becoming trash to be thrown away, can be recycled into something beautiful, something different and useful. That is IF I let the sweet rain fall to the ground, drink it in and trust that in its time, something beautiful, fruitful, useful will peak out from beneath the soil and show life and beauty. Amen.