Pulling off to the edge of the road, I stopped the engine and got out to stretch. It felt like I’d been driving for days instead of just 14 hours, and I was badly in need of a break. I walked around the car, working out the kinks, and taking in the landscape around me. It was dry, hot, and dusty. I had stopped at the edge of the mountains leading into the valley and had quite a view spread out before me. The predominant color was brown, with a bit of grey-green mixed in wherever cacti and sagebrush were found.
According to geologists, the area had long ago been home to an inland sea that had long since drained away, leaving behind a dry, arid land. The soil in the valley, if you could get water to it, was rich and fertile. Many farmers had long since learned the art of irrigation to take advantage of the soil for growing things. This was evidenced by occasional green patches in the vast landscape of brown.
As I stood, looking out over the vast landscape, I reflected on a Psalm I had recently read. It began thus: “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;”* This vast valley, an empty sea, devoid of water, had turned into a brown, dusty, dry place. The more I considered it, the more I realized that the soul without God is the same way… thirsting for God, a dry, dusty, arid land. That same valley, when the water of God’s grace and mercy and love comes flooding down into that soul, the ground within the soul is fertile and ripe for growing the fruits of the spirit. The soul requires an open irrigation channel to God, to constantly receive this water that causes it to blossom and grow. Should something block that channel, over time the soul will return to its dry, arid, dusty state and the life within would shrivel up and die.
As I reflected, I realized that I didn’t want ever want to be an empty sea, but instead, I would be a place where the love and graces of God flows constantly. I want to be like that tree that is planted by the river whose leaf does not wither and whose fruit is available year round.
Stretching one last time, I got back into the car and cranked up the air conditioner. Pulling back onto the road, I drove down into the valley toward my destination… a place where I could spend a few days enjoying the company of family and friends.
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