Here in central Indiana, the newspapers are filled each day with reports of water shortages and how Indianapolis and many of the surrounding communities have been put on notice that citizens may not water grass, wash cars, or perform a number of other chores around the house that require water. There are exemptions for commercial car washes and for people who have had their yards landscaped before the drought, but on balance, the water shortage is pretty severe. The numbers are staggering – and I have no idea how much water certain areas use, but the paper said that the consumption of water in the Indy area has declined more than 40 MILLION gallons a day since Friday. So I guess that the watering ban is working.
Here in Carmel, we do not depend on surface water for our city supply – instead, Carmel has an aquifer. That is, an underground source of water that is not in jeopardy of being depleted. Even so, this year Carmel did raise for water rates for any family that uses in excess of 4000 gallons per month. It used to be that the rate went down per gallon used after hitting the 4000 gallon threshold, but now the rate is up something like 40% on the overage. And frankly, many of the people in the community are deciding to stop watering because the cost of watering has become exorbitant. Grass is turning brown and we were warned that we should water the base of trees, as they are in so much distress. Saturday and Sunday I watered the five trees bordering the back of our property – seemingly to no avail – tonight I noticed that the top has died in one of the larger evergreen trees.
When I returned from Oklahoma and Dallas late last week, I couldn’t believe that the midwest looked worse that Texas and the deep south. In fact, during our descent into Indy, the normally plush green landscape was replaced by dry, barren landscape that looks as if it could catch on fire any time. On my way down to the cafeteria today I even noticed a section of grass by the side of the road that had apparently caught on fire, probably as the result of somebody throwing a lit cigarette out of a moving car. The ground was charred and it obviously could have been much, much worse.
In short, the area is desolate. And when you drive around the neighborhoods, the sense of destruction is really astonishing. Yesterday, as we headed to Tipton where I preached the morning service, Janet and I were amazed at the horrible condition of the corn crop. It was as if a little water wouldn’t even do any good. Everything is so far gone, it seems nothing could possibly save the crop. Of course, nobody can burn anything and law enforcement agencies suspended all private fireworks displays along with many of the nearby communities.
There is only one other time in my life when I remember being so desperate for water. Only that time, I wanted to drink it. I had been sick with severe tonsillitis and my throat actually swelled closed. I could breathe but it hurt to swallow – more than I can tell you. Suffice it to say that I have never been in more agony. Ultimately, I needed surgery to have my tonsils removed, but that is another story. I wanted water – but couldn’t even swallow one small mouthful. I was so dehydrated that I finally needed an IV so my liquids would be replaced. The feeling was one of the most desperate I have ever had. As I sit here writing this evening, I can’t even find the words to describe something so simple as wanting one swallow of water. I can imagine what happens when people are tortured.
Sometimes, that’s how it is with God. We try to find Him but for whatever reason, we can’t. It’s like we are in a dry and desolate place. We want God – but we just can’t get into communion with Him. It’s like we wither and dry up – just like the landscape outside our window. Tonight’s verse is from the beginning of Psalm 63 – one of the Psalms written by David when he was on the run, worried about being slain by his own son, Absalom. He felt alone, with nowhere to turn, and he had difficulty connecting with God. David tells us in Ps. 63:1, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
While David laments his plight, he starts to remember better times when he had been close to God. With each passing verse, he becomes stronger and in Ps. 63:6-8, David says, “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”
The lesson here is that when things seem beyond hope, remember better times and this will give you strength to stay the course and get through the difficult situation. My encouragement tonight is that when you think things are hopeless, remember the times in your life that God pulled you through. And my prayer is that you will find peace and will no longer feel desperate. By the way, the weather forecast says it may rain on Wednesday – God knows our need, so we are ever hopeful. Have a great day in the Lord and in the meantime, grace and peace…