As some of you might have seen on my status updates on Facebook lately, I’ve had lots of experiences with water. Namely, my house, purchased only two months ago, has taken water in the basement twice; plus, I’ve had to shovel more snow and ice than I have in my whole life. This makes me more than a bit grumpy.
When I’m dealing with water in its many forms, I mostly spend a lot of time talking with God (in a very sarcastic tone) about how I’d like to have my next call be to a warmer climate. However, in my humbler moments, I manage to contemplate on a slightly higher plane. That’s when I ask, “So, what am I supposed to learn from this?”
Water is a powerful element – it always manages to find its way through impediments of all sorts. Water cleans things more effectively than anything else. All living things require water to survive.
One day I realized that after going down to my basement to mop up water for the billionth time, what do I do when I finish? Go upstairs and get (you guessed it) a glass of water. In that single moment, I experienced both the powerful aspect of water as well as its nourishing and refreshing nature. How amazing!
It’s no wonder that water serves as a central image in Christian practice. When Christians are baptized, water is sprinkled on their forehead or they are dunked in water. Water welcomes us into the community of other believers – perhaps as a reminder of how a relationship with God is challenging, powerful, nourishing, refreshing, mysterious and even sometimes … annoying. I’d say that’s about a perfect symbol for committing to a life of faith.
Recently I was talking to a woman in one of our Iowa Conference UCC churches about the challenge of getting their Christian Education program back up and running. As I listened to what she said, I was reminded of all the water with which I had been dealing. The challenge of managing it seemed overwhelming and even impossible at times, but eventually the work got done, perhaps in ways I didn’t expect. The experience of doing ministry is really no different.
I’d say I’ve learned a few things from all this water about the mystery of God’s presence in this world. Its complicated nature is powerful, yet nourishing; challenging, yet refreshing — just like living a life of faith.
So, when is my call to one of those desert states going to happen? I’m sure I could learn something really valuable from all that sand!