If anyone has ever wondered why God so often uses the idea of drought to explain spiritual suffering, he need only move to Kansas in the summer, but this year we’re experiencing the opposite phenomenon: Deluge.
For weeks it has rained, almost every day. Night after night we are awakened by torrential water pounding our windows, lightning illuminating our bedrooms, and our beds full of children terrified of the thunder that snaps, crackles, and pops from one side of the horizon to the other.
It’s been tiring, but oh-so-lovely. To give you an idea of our typical summers: Last year’s was once of the hottest on record with multiple days of 100-degree-plus temperatures. It was an unrelenting heat that made you want to cry every time you had to go outside. For us to have had even one day of precipitation was a welcomed punctuation in what was an otherwise miserable summer. For us to have nearly daily rain this year is heaven.
But God knew this first, this yearning for water on parched earth. During college, I once took a study break to draw a psychedelic version of Psalm 42 for my dorm wall.
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God. …”
When you are a mountain girl stuck in arid L.A., you learn what panting for water really means.
We are given illustrations of wells and gardens and green pastures to make a point: Without water, we die—both physically and spiritually. And later, Jesus is more direct, knowing of (and being) a thing called “living water” that causes a person to never thirst again.
In his astonishing little book Godric, Frederick Buechner writes of the time Godric meets a mysterious woman named Gillian, as he was about to drink out of a pond.
“Such drink will leave you thirsting yet,” Gillian said. “Take heed.”
She then warns Godric to turn to Christ.
“I prayed to him in Rome,” Godric said, “It was like calling down an empty well.” Gillian then asked, “Could it be it’s he instead that’s calling you?”
Godric replied, “But silence has no voice to call.”
“The voice of silence calls, ‘Be still and hear,’ poor dunce,” Gillian told him. “The empty well within your hear calls too. It says, ‘Be full.’”
“Oh Gillian, I thirst, I thirst,” Godric said.
“Then drink your fill, old bear!” Gillian cried as she dunked his head into the cool, green pond water.
The image of saturation, of quenching a deep thirst that feels unquenchable, sinks deep into parched souls. Watching the night sky fill with yet another load of precious H2O and know it’s heading our way has the same effect. It’s a reminder that we aren’t alone, bereft in our need. We are known and He rains his blessings, literally, upon us.