There’s a drought in California right now. The drought’s been going on for a while now. It’s the worst one California’s had in decades. In January, the governor declared a drought emergency and asked residents to reduce their water consumption by 20% (which, for the average household, is about 72 gallons a day.)
I moved here in March and now, five months later, the water levels in the reservoirs are still dropping and it has rained maybe nine drops of rain since I arrived.
There are radio ads and public service announcements suggesting how to decrease your personal water consumption. The top tips are…
Let your lawn “go brown” instead of watering it, or switch your landscape to drought-resistant plants that thrive on lots of sun and little water.
Don’t wash your vehicles with your hose.
If you boil pasta or vegetables, don’t pour the water down the drain; use it to water your plants.
Take 5 minute showers and, some even suggest, shower together as a family.
And, the ever-famous, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow…” because the average toilet uses 3.6 gallons of water per flush.
I’ve been thinking about the drought and wondering, “What do we do if we completely run out of water? What happens when the reservoirs and wells run dry?”
An answer came. An answer that increased my already-heightened anxiety. Sure, we could buy very expensive desalinators and try to remove salt from sea water so it’s drinkable. We can import water from places that have enough to share. But, there is a limited amount of water on the planet. And so, if we run out of options and we drain the springs and rivers and seas, we won’t have any options left.
If we run out of water, we’ll die.
The news has been especially heartbreaking lately. ISIS is killing innocent people in violent ways that are, to me, literally unspeakable. Militants shot down passenger planes from the sky. Israel and Gaza have each other by the throat. Patients in Africa are dying of Ebola. A man in Santa Barbara stabbed his parents, sons and dog to death. And Robin William took his own life.
As a highly sensitive and intuitive person, these tragedies are soul-crushing. Sometimes as I’m hearing news from the front lines of these crises, my chest feels heavy and I can’t take a deep breath and I don’t want to eat and I can’t sleep.
The world seems to be in a drought much like California’s. Except it’s not a lack of water; it’s a lack of grace and peace and love.
I’m writing this at 4 a.m. Not because I am a diligent writer who set my alarm to get up ridiculously early to write, but because I’ve been lying awake in bed for the past hour, wondering the same thing about the world as I wonder about California. What if we run out of grace and peace and love? What will happen to us then?
I try to think of contingency plans. We can import peacekeepers and diplomats to the violence-ridden regions. We can drain the world’s financial resources trying to broker peace in the impossible places. We can airdrop medicine to patients who are dying. We can send food by the truckloads into starving countries. We can amp up mental health resources for patients who are so depressed, death looks better than life.
We can march for peace, we can protest war, we can support NGO’s.
But, if all of that fails and nothing changes and we continue as we are…
The answer rises in my chest and it’s hard to breathe.
Just like if the world runs out of water...
If we run out of grace, we're all going to die.
The day that Robin William passed away, I went to the beach. It was windy, so I sat there wearing a hooded sweatshirt, wrapped in a blanket. I watched the waves ebb and flow. I cried for the pain that wracks our world, and the pain that wracks individual souls.
And I remembered an image from my days as a college science major. It was a chart about the earth's water cycle. And it showed that there's a constant amount of water on our planet; it just exists in different forms.
It's held in bodies of water like our oceans, rivers and streams. Then it gets evaporated and held in the clouds, like a sponge soaking up water. And then, when the spongy clouds can no longer contain the water, its as though God wrings them out, and rain comes pouring down.
There is always a constant amount of water on our planet. It just exists in different forms.
So what we really need -- what would be the most amazing advance in technology -- is not individuals to reduce their personal water consumption by taking military showers and not flushing their pee; it’s the ability to make it rain.
And this is what we need in our world today. Not only draining all of our collective resources to broker cease-fires and buy medicine and provide food. But all of God’s children on our knees, begging for rain. Begging for grace to fall down from the sky. Begging God to take the love that has seemingly evaporated and wring it out onto our parched planet, washing away the world’s bloodstains and tears.
Some souls, like Robin Williams, are tragic victims of the world’s drought. Their thirsty souls depart from this arid place and flee to the heavens, where there is water in immeasurable supply.
And for those of us who are left behind, we wait. We pray. We beg God to be merciful. We ask him not only to shift around the resources we have left here, but to wring out the heavens and make it rain. On earth as it is in heaven. A deluge to drench our dehydrated world.
Grace like rain.
Peace like a river.
Love like an ocean
that never runs dry.