when living water flows

Walking to my favourite coffee shop in Luxembourg city centre yesterday, I walked past a small crane on the back of a truck, with two people in it, installing a new street art feature down the pedestrian street: dozens of colourful umbrellas hanging in rows.

It seems that even (especially) after two weeks of wall to wall sunshine and heat, Luxembourg is always prepared for rain!

In the meantime, Rasmus and I are busy each evening watering all our balcony plants to keep them alive in this dry weather – especially those courgettes who seem to be the thirstiest of them all.

It reminds me of something that was said in a sermon at our church a few weeks ago. Jonathan was preaching on the story of the showdown between God’s prophet Elijah and the hundreds of prophets of Baal. A bizarre, bloody and fascinating story if ever there was one.

But it was the context that struck me anew this time. There has been no rain for a long time. For over three years in fact. There is drought in the land.

The earth of the fields cracked open. Fertile soil turned to dust. Animals dying from lack of food. Children dying from lack of food. And in their desperation, people will seek for any path that promises hope, even the wrong one.

And the question I walked away with, the one that’s been humming in my own heart since then, was, “where are there areas of drought in my own life?”

Where am I operating out of scarcity instead of abundance? Where have I failed to water what desperately needs water to grow? Where is the soil turning to dust from lack of rain? And where might I be turning in the wrong direction because I am living out of that place of famine?

It’s been especially interesting to ask myself this question in the last months of pregnancy, as my growing body has demanded more rest from me, even as I try and get more done in preparation. I’m having to learn new rhythms of living these weeks, and glimpsing in those new rhythms some of the lack I was living out of before.

An attitude of scarcity is not always easy to see. It disguises itself as responsibility, as a good work ethic, as the oh-so-Christian servant heart. It pretends to be something positive as we boast about how busy we are, how rushed off our feet, how stressed because of all the good things we are cramming in to our days.

I’ve handed over so many of my tasks and roles in the last month. Letting go has been hard. It’s involved uncurling my tightly bound fingers one by one as I hand over the baton. I desperately want to be needed. I want to be indispensable to others.

But in addressing that emotion in me, I’ve seen suddenly the withered plants and the gaping cracks in the ground. I’ve realised that this is an area of drought, not of plenty. I’m holding on because I fear there won’t be a role for me, a purpose for me, if I give up these things. I’m scared that God might think less of me, might love me less, if I’m not juggling a dozen different responsibilities at the same time.

I’m believing in the lie of scarcity, not the truth that I am already enough, and that in that enough I find the surprise of abundance.

I start instead to hear the gentle call to water this area of my life, to feed it with some truth instead of fearful lies. I start to tell myself that my worth is not in how many people are relying on me today. My worth is not in how many tasks I have ticked off a list. My worth is not in the number of new emails and messages that flood my inbox every hour.

Without those things, I can feel a bit adrift some days. It takes time to readjust my perspective. The clouds slowly roll in, heavy drops begin to fall one by one on the dusty ground. New growth won’t come over night. But it’s amazing how quickly the grasses will grow once the living water arrives. And as the streams start to flow in the desert, I can scoop up deep mouthfuls of fresh water and suddenly realise just how thirsty I have been.

“They will neither hunger nor thirst,
nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them
and lead them beside springs of water.” Isaiah 49

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.
Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” John 7