Thomas Fuller, said to have been the source of many of Benjamin Franklin’s proverbs, wrote in Gnomologia, in 1732, “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” I can see the worth every time I look out our front window! One house across the street to my right uses an automatic watering system; the one to the left does not. On the left, the house’s lawn is burned brown; the lawn next door is lush green. Last summer, this was not so.
But last summer in June we had not had so many days of triple digit heat accompanied by a relentless wind. That wind has made the heat tolerable for me, but it has stressed the plants and lawns. The red maple we planted earlier this spring requires an extra weekly, sustained spray of water, though it’s getting watered twice a day by the sprinkler.
The view reminds me of the wonder of water in dry spells – and the news reminds me of the terror of a drought. Literal droughts are dangerous, and spiritual droughts are as threatening. Parts of Texas, among other states, are battling now the consequences of drought. The smallest unintended spark has ignited harmful fires.
Fights in the church are often more costly – burning up resources, and burning out pastors and other servants. (See The Cost of Conflict)
· Born again Christians in the U.S. file 4 to 8 million lawsuits every year, often against other Christians, costing 20 to 40 billion dollars.
· There are approximately 19,000 major, scarring church conflicts in the U.S. each year (an average of 50 per day).
· 32% of born again Christians who have been married have gone through a divorce, virtually the same percentage as our general population.
· 1,500 pastors leave their assignments every month in the U.S. because of conflict, burnout, or moral failure, costing the church at least $684 million each year.
Clearly, more than a few of us should check and see if we are rightly connected to the source of life and refreshment. (John 4:11, 7:38) Or we need to change our names! (Acts 11:26) Others of us should see how frequently we are being watered, and increase it. (Isa 58:11) Heat, drought and wind will wreck real gardens. Persecution, a dearth of sound teaching and unresolved conflict will cut a swathe through our Christian witness.
The class I’m teaching on peacemaking teaches me many everyday conflicts can be resolved; the view outside my window shows what ignoring conflict can look like.
God willing, you and I dear readers will be like well-watered gardens – repairers of the seemingly growing breaches in the walls of our nation, church and families.
I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places —
firm muscles, strong bones.
You'll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You'll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again. (Isa 58:11-12 from THE MESSAGE.)