The great American Midwest-breadbasket to the world, inland sea of waving grain-is experiencing its worst drought in 50 years. Where I live, they say it's the worst ever. I've been around awhile (more than 50 years) and can't recall anything quite like this. In June the fields looked like they usually look in August: brown, scratchy, and thin as an aged scalp. In news reports, the standard shot of cracked bare earth brooded over by a gloomy farmer or county extension agent pops up again and again. The prognosis is not cheerful: "It'll take two years to recover," or five, or 11 … or, "We might be looking at another dust bowl."
I'm opposed to so much of the corn crop going into ethanol. I'm opposed to farm subsidies and other meddling policies that skew the market and create perverse incentives-sometimes they even cause the shortages they're supposed to prevent. But nature laughs at politicians. We can't blame the government for 90 days with no rain to speak of-this is God's doing.
"… I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze" (Leviticus 26:18-19). Is that what's happening? While we duck from air-conditioned vehicles into air-conditioned buildings, clinging to the power grid for dear life, we can't escape the sky overhead, so unyielding a fist would bounce off it with a dead, hollow ring. The glaring sun sticks to it, as though angry in captivity, while the land below helplessly bakes to bronze.
Drought is a recurring image in the Bible, usually tied to judgment. But Lord, we're trying! We sweltered for an hour in the car last Wednesday, waiting to pull up to Chick-fil-A's drive-thru window. We sign petitions and register voters. We're praying for revival to halt our nation's slide to perdition-why won't He answer? I don't know. Why didn't He answer during the big drought of the mid-1950s, a time many of us consider a golden age for Christian values? Nobody knows. Two things I do know: 1) Nobody can intelligently question God (Isaiah 45:9), and 2) He loves us.
Last summer the reddest of red states was literally burning. In central Texas, the little lake beside my sister's house was sucked down to a trickle. Some weather analysts assessed the situation as only the middle of a 12-year trend. But this year is much better. Due to a January deluge, my sister's little lake is up to normal level, fish are jumping, and the cotton is high. Our Daddy is rich.
And He loves us.
A dry season reminds us that we can't earn that love. Our most earnest endeavor will not turn the sun aside or soften the sky. But "while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease" (Genesis 8:22). When I feel my energy draining in day after day of triple digits, there's usually a breeze stirring somewhere. In the shade I can feel it: a reminder of the Spirit that goes where He wills.