Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s medication, or maybe it’s just that I got tired of being around myself all the time, but a few weeks ago I started to come out of my desert wandering funk. I haven’t arrived anywhere. There’s no promise that’s suddenly been fulfilled, no mountain of opportunity that’s suddenly appeared in front of me. In fact, life looks pretty much exactly the same as it did a week ago, six months ago, a year ago.
But I stopped looking for rain to come from above and started living like I have access to water right underneath my feet.
When I spent a month in Kenya, I lived in the desert. They were living through a terrible drought and every day I prayed for rain. I was so convinced it was going to rain, in fact, that I carried around my bright green Gore-tex rain jacket everywhere we went. In the dry, hot heat that rain jacket was my symbol of faith that God could send rain to water that sun-scorched land. But no matter how long we prayed, no matter how much I believed, no matter how hard we hoped, rain didn’t come. I left that desert just as dry as it was the day we arrived. I had stared up at the sky for 30 days wondering why the sand was so parched beneath my feet.
When the month ended I moved on to another country, eventually returned home and haven’t thought too much more about that desert season that I barely dipped my toes into. Until a teammate sent me a news article about Turkana last month.
This article announced the discovery of a potentially enormous underground supply of water. Five large aquifers were discovered far beneath the desert sand, wells containing over 66 trillion gallons of water to be tapped into. More than enough water to bring an end to the drought in the desert, more than enough to sustain life and health and growth.
And my mind was blown. I had stood on top of these wells, a layer of sand all that stood between the water and my feet, and stared up into the heavens wondering why there was no rain to be found. I lamented the barrenness and pleaded the need on behalf of people in a land I barely knew. And all the while, water was just under the surface, out of sight, just waiting to be discovered and absorbed.
It’s no secret that I’ve hailed these last several months as a desert with a promise just out of reach, but somehow recently my eyes have shifted downward and I’m shocked to discover again the enormous wells I have access to just beneath the surface. Fresh rain hasn’t poured down from heaven no matter how many Gore-tex tokens of faith I’ve waved at the skies. But I’m discovering deep, deep wells of life-giving water, wells that have been there all along, wells that might even be inside of me.
It’s like the Lord is saying, “Stop waiting for me to rain down at you, on you, to you, I LIVE INSIDE OF YOU. No outward expression is going to replace the inward access you have to my spirit, my breath, my water. To me.”
There are desert seasons. There are mountains and valleys and promised lands, and yes, there are deserts. And they’re barren and dry and disorienting and lonely. But maybe instead of raising fists at the sky, we’re supposed to look down underneath, just within,to see that the Life–the Promise–is not Out There somewhere, but deep inside of us.