I live in the north where the complaint is usually about rain. No one waters their lawns here, there is no need--usually. But this year green has withered into brown and lifeless and I can't help wondering what is next. I guess I never expected drought here where drinking water wells are dug down to only 60 feet. But it is a huge reminder how little (if anything) we actually control. On many levels, that awareness frightens me.
I spent several years in a rural ranching town where drought continued for more than seven years. I enjoyed a small community church there. On some Sundays during that time I saw big, burly ranchers openly weep as one by one they lost their herds, some lost their homes and their livelihoods with them. We prayed, wept, and sought the LORD for relief. But relief was slow in coming.
I'm thinking of Deuteronomy 11:13-17 "And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you
the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter
rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.“Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the Lord’s
anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there
be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from
the good land which the Lord is giving you.
And Isaiah 42:24 "Who gave Jacob for plunder, and Israel to the robbers? Was it not the Lord,
He against whom we have sinned? For they would not walk in His ways, Nor were they obedient to His law."
After raising a crop of children of my own, these passages have taken on new meaning. I don't believe these are punishment passages (If you don't do what I tell you I will squash you like a bug aargh!") but rather an explanation of boundaries and consequence. What exactly happens when we serve other gods? Who pays the price? There is no other "good god" you either follow the LORD or you turn your face towards evil and evil is dark, vicious and cruel. It creates horrible consequences!
I told my children, "If you walk into the middle of the street without looking both ways, you could be hit by a car and killed" There was a point where I expected them to obey without my constant reminder. I trusted them to walk down the street safely outside of my view. If they didn't, being hit by a car was not something I did to them but something that happened in consequence.
If my child were using a toy to pound the
heads of their siblings. I would be angry in defense of the innocent
and take that toy away until the heart of the child was repentant and he
was safe with it around the others. Does that make me a vengeful, mean, overbearing parent or a loving one? God will protect the disadvantaged. He
will defend the fatherless and the widow. On the flip side, not only will he allow consequence but He will not force His protection on anyone. Without crossing boundaries and being controlling, (which is not kind) He can not protect those who reject His protection. My protection for my children from being killed by a car was not to remove all the cars from the road but to teach them how to navigate a road full of cars safely. It was then their choice to obey or not.
This year in the North, nothing has been "In it's season" There were many warm days when it should have been snowing, Then there was frost when it should have been warm. The fruit trees lost their buds, pickers lost their summer jobs, towns lost summer season renters and the tax revenue connected to it. Was that punishment, consequence or coincidence?
In the Northern plains half of the land meant to grow wheat is left fallow every year. It is given a whole season to rest. It's left fallow because years of research has proven that God's commandments about letting fields rest is sound land management. Our dust bowl of the 1930s was a consequence of poor land management including the lack of crop rotation. In other words drought and disobedience are linked like streets and cars. Many of God's commandments, which used to sound like meaningless rituals now make scientific sense like the ones that command people to wash their hands before they eat. What you do or don't ...matters!
As I write all that I then feel a little powerless, powerless because so many around me are choosing to dash out in the street and get hit. My country no longer seeks to walk humbly before the LORD. What can one person do? Does it matter really? Prophets cried in the streets, "Thus says the LORD, "Consider your ways" but few did. What was the point? The end result frightens me. But then again there were people like Daniel, Rahab, and David. They listened to the prophets and were protected in miraculous ways because they walked in integrity in terrible times. God help me do the same.