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February 1, 2016

February 2016
Sharon Gallagher

The land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven  . . . (Deuteronomy 11:11)

It’s been raining in Berkeley—drizzling, sprinkling, and pouring. But even in the heaviest downpour, no one’s complaining. We’re grateful for every drop.

After one of the worst droughts in California’s history, we’ve stopped taking water for granted. Farmers, whose crops we all depend on, faced ruin. As they tapped deeper and deeper sources, depleting ancient aquafers, we understood that there were limits. Resources are finite. We are finite creatures dependent on a natural world we don’t control.

At last summer’s NCB film series, two movies were about water—the power of water and God’s control over that power. Noah expressed God’s judgment of the whole world and Exodus God’s judgment of the Egyptian people. But other Old Testament passages describe water as an expression of God’s mercy and care.

In one of many commands to “remember the Lord your God,” Israelites are told: “He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint” (Deuteronomy 8:15).

Eugene Peterson’s translation of Deuteronomy 8:11-15 brings new life to the ancient injunction, revealing the text’s meaning:

Make sure you don’t forget GOD, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today. Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up—make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget GOD, your God,

     the God who delivered you from Egyptian slavery;
     the God who led you through that huge and fearsome wilderness,
     those desolate, arid badlands crawling with fiery snakes and scorpions;
     the God who gave you water gushing from hard rock . . .

At church last Sunday during the closing blessing, I noticed that the woman next to me was holding her hands out, palms up, and I did the same. Afterwards I told her, “I love receiving the blessing.” She said, “I always experience it as rain.”

Rain is a blessing. The drought has taught us humility, reminding us that some things we take for granted are gifts. We’ve been reminded to manage things better—to be better stewards. We’ve been reminded to thank God for daily mercies, recognizing the world and its resources as unearned gifts.




“Remember” God tells the Israelites again and again. One of the NCB spring offerings is “Writing and Reading Spiritual Memoirs” (Saturday morning, May 7). The seminar will encourage us to remember God’s goodness in our lives. Please join us.

Posted on February 1, 2016 at 9:03 AM

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